Despite its small size, the Ile de Ré houses authentic natural and historical treasures. You will discover places that witnessed wars, enviable natural spaces and architectural gems that will surprise you. Get on a bicycle and start living an adventure that will be unforgettable. The Ile de Ré is waiting for you for a vacation where tranquillity and calm are a mantra!
Historic monument on the island of Ré, the Notre-Dame-de-Ré abbey was founded in the 12th century. Destroyed and restored several times in the course of history, it was definitively abandoned by the Cistercian monks in the middle of the sixteenth century. All that remains are its vestiges, located near the cliffs of the north-east face near the Flotte-en-Ré, in the middle of fields of wheat and poppies. Access is free or with a guided tour.
This fortified parish church was built in several stages from the 12th century. Its bell tower, added in the fifteenth century, served as a fixed point for navigation as well as a maritime surveillance post. Today it is accessible to tourists and offers a 360° panorama over the surrounding vineyards and fields, and a direct view of the island of Oléron and Fort Boyard.
Located at the western tip of the Ile de Ré and still active, the whale lighthouse was built in 1854 to replace the old tower, whose reach was too limited. Its luminous range is 50 kilometres. Hundreds of thousands of visitors each year climb its spiral staircase of 257 steps to admire the view at its summit. This is one of the major attractions of the island. It owes its name because of the many whales that once ran aground on this part of the island.
With its 100km of coastline, the Ile de Ré boasts some of the most beautiful sandy beaches on the Atlantic coast. For swimming, the most popular beaches are in the south of the island (La Couarde-sur-Mer, Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré), protected from the prevailing winds.
The northern beaches have a more wild and authentic look. For example the Conche des Baleines, bordered by the forest of Lizay and by the dunes, constitutes an ideal place for swimming and walking.
Our favourite beaches are the Grenettes beach, the Couarde beach, the whale watching trail and the small beaches of Portes en Ré up to the Patache.
To the north of Ile de Ré, an area that extends over about 120 hectares is known for its salt marshes. It is also home to the Lilleau des Niges Nature Reserve, home to many species of migratory birds, mainly from the Nordic countries.
We encourage you to visit the eco museum dedicated to the history of the marshes which presents the trade of saunier and the ingenious system of feeding the basins.
Built at the end of the 17th century, the Vauban fortifications of the commune of Saint-Martin-de-Ré have been inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List since 2008. The characteristic star-shaped enclosure was designed to shelter the whole population of the island in case of invasion.
Hiking lovers or simple explorers, you can walk through the ramparts via a footpath and take the opportunity to stroll through Saint Martin which is a very nice little town organised around its charming port.
Imported by the monks in the 13th century, wine-growing activity quickly spread to the point of occupying the most arable land at the end of the 19th century. It represents approximately 650 hectares, to date, of crops dedicated to the production of white, rosé, red and sparkling wines, on the Pineau des Charentes and Cognac terroir. The vines thus constitute an important part of the identity of the island and shapes its landscape.
The wine is produced from eight different grape varieties: ugni-blanc, colombard, chardonnay, sauvignon for white wines and merlot, cabernet franc, sauvignon and tannât for red wines.
You can go to meet the winegrowers and participate in a tasting by making a stop at the cooperative cellar during a bike ride. The cellar is located on the road leading from Sainte-Marie de Ré to Bois-Plage. The visit is free and allows everyone to discover the cellars of aging.
The island of Ré owes its success, above all, to its 10 picturesque villages with varied landscapes. Despite their resemblance, each village proposes a specific and authentic atmosphere with its own architectural heritage, and worth a detour for a walk: Saint-Martin de Ré, The Fleet, Ars en Ré, Sainte-Marie de Ré, Loix, Bois-Plage-en-Ré, the Couarde sur Mer, Rivedoux, Saint Clément des Baleines, Les Portes en Ré.