We have discovered a new motorhome destination in France. I would love to keep it secret but it has already been discovered by many others! Here is my motorhome guide to the wonderful Île de Ré.
To be honest, we are probably late to the party as far as taking a motorhome to the Île de Ré is concerned as it is already a very popular motorhome destination. As we crossed the toll bridge from La Rochelle and drove through the first tiny village I knew that this was going to be a special place and so it turned out to be. Pretty white washed houses overlooking a crystal clear turquoise sea. White sandy beaches and inviting cafes. What more could the discerning motorhome user need!
How to get to the Île de Ré
Driving from the north follow the directions towards Bordeaux (A10) and then La Rochelle. Since 1988, the île de Ré has been linked to La Rochelle by a 3 kilometre toll bridge. Prices of the bridge : summer €16 (from June 20th to September 11th), winter €8 (from September 12th to June 19th). You can pay by Contactless card payment but it took us several minutes to realise that our card needed to be inserted into the machine for the payment to work!
Crossing the bridge costs €3 for motorcycles and is free for cyclists and pedestrians.
Where to stay with a motorhome on the Île de Ré
There are plenty of campsites but after a bit of research about the Île de Ré I rang ahead a few days before our arrival and booked a 5 star campsite called La Grainetière. The site is ideally located between the two main tourist areas of La Flotte and Saint-Martin-de-Ré. It is a good thing that I booked because the site was full. The facilities here were excellent. Pristine shower and toilet facilities, a heated swimming pool, a good shop and food available if you wanted it. The campsite hires bikes but we always carry our own bikes on the back of our motorhome.
Cycling on the Île de Ré
If you love cycling then the Île de Ré is for you. The island is criss-crossed with 100km of cycle paths and as the island is only 30km long the flat terrain is perfect for the occasional cyclist and even more serious riders will enjoy what this beautiful island has to offer. Cycle tracks wind through vineyards, salt marshes and nature reserves. Exploring the white washed villages by bike is a relaxing, fun and safe way to see the island. We loved cycling into La Flotte and Saint Martin, securing our bikes to a railing, along with hundreds of others, and then walking around the stylish and bustling villages.
Where did we visit?
A 15 minute cycle ride from our campsite took us to the very pretty village of La Flotte. Narrow cobbled streets and beautiful cottages greeted us as we headed for the harbour area. What struck me was just how clean and well maintained everything was. Clearly, the local residents took a pride in their community which was really good to see.
After cycling to La Flotte and exploring the beautiful harbour area we decided to cycle to the nearby town of Saint Martin. This is bigger than La Flotte, with more shops and restaurants. The cobbled streets were very busy with tourists and the harbour side restaurants looked very appealing.
Ars-en-Ré is another very pretty village waiting to be explored, and is one of the official “most beautiful villages in France”. We parked on the outskirts of the village and walked along narrow cobblestone streets, past rustic white-washed buildings and we were struck by the charming atmosphere of this historic port. Ars-en-Re boasts a rich maritime heritage which you can still see to this day.
Unveiling the Mystique of Phare des Baleines: A Beacon of Maritime History
Standing majestically at the far western tip of the Île de Ré you will find the stunning lighthouse of Phare des Baleines. Built in 1854, there are 257 steps to the top and we walked every single one! At the top you get amazing views of the surrounding area. This iconic tower is more than just a lighthouse; it’s a testament to maritime heritage and a beacon guiding ships through the ages. The Old Tower and Museum is adjacent to the lighthouse and is a silent witness to centuries of maritime adventures. The museum inside narrates the island’s history, housing artifacts that breathe life into the island’s seafaring past.