Must See - What to do on the Island of Ré?

Published the 01/25/2021 in Exploring the Region

This week, it is a virtual  escape on the island of Ré in Charente-Maritime.  The islands of Ré, Oléron, Aix and the city of la Rochelle are a great destination choice for those who seek nature, authenticity and a peaceful  retreat (at the condition to avoid August!).  

Here is our essential guide to discover its most emblematic Island - l'Ile de Ré. Discover  an    island full of charm and authenticity, also called "Ré la blanche" for the color of its traditional houses.

With its 100 km of cycle tracks you will get lost between its beaches, its salt marshes but also its vineyards and forests. And from Oysters ice cream to local markets, there is much to do . 

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The tour of the island by bike, indeed the means of transport of this small island is the bike so you could enjoy authentic landscapes such as the salt tides.

The port of Saint Martin de Ré, where you can admire its harbor while tasting a delicious ice cream from La Martinière.

La maison du fier at the gates of the national reserve of Lilleau des Niges. Embark on a walk in the heart of nature and discover the biodiversity of the Rhone Valley.

Le Phare des Baleines - the lighthouse of the whales, where you could contemplate the magnificent view but be careful with these 257 steps to climb to enjoy this magnificent landscape.

Ars en Ré is said to be the jewel of the Rhaetan architecture with its houses with green shutters. And the unusual black and white bell tower of the church, which at the time served as a landmark for sailors.

Ile de Ré - Phare

Must-try delicacies

The flower of salt, also called "WHITE GOLD", is not to be confused with coarse salt. It is made of small white crystals harvested by salt marshes. The harvesting of the fleur de sel on the island of Ré is 100% natural and is done by hand to honor this ancestral art. These small soft grains have a melting and delicate aspect.

The fleur de sel is a fine and refined product which justifies the demand. We can associate it to perfection with all the dishes, generally to raise the dishes and to put forward the tastes of the products. The small quantity produced makes it expensive but also a rare and sought-after product.

A small piece of advice, the fleur de sel goes very well with the foie gras, we let you taste it!!!

The oyster is the essential product of the Charente Maritime. It grows in the open sea, then in claires and are often tasted at the producers which shows the freshness of the product. Oysters have a taste that can change according to the seasons.

Pineau des Charentes. The Ile de Ré is located on the territory of the Crus de Cognac - les Bois Ordinaires -, so we can find there a production of Cognac - the Camus Ile de Ré for example - and thus of Pineau de Charentes.

AOC liqueur wine, it is an emblematic product of the Charente and Charente Maritime region in the same way as Cognac. Resulting from the mixture of grape must and Cognac, this wine is perfect for aperitifs and cocktails. Want to learn more about this local specialty? We'll tell you all about it in this article!

La Maritinière Ice Cream. Since 1970, their motto "the taste of the real thing" is not a misleading advertisement since their ice creams are as close as possible to the original ingredient. The ice creams are made on the spot that's why you can't taste them anywhere in France except on the Ile de Ré.

You will find many original tastes such as Mara strawberries, Charentais melon, goat cheese, oysters or salt from the island of Ré. The highest requirement of the company is the quality of the raw materials used. This artisanal ice-cream maker uses the best of what can be found in the region. So, if you make a stop on the Ile de Ré, take advantage of it and go taste these fabulous ice creams!

Salicornia are plants also called "sea asparagus" or "sea pickle". They can usually be found in the Rhaetian marshes because the saltwort needs a lot of salt to grow. They grow on small bushes, they are known for their positive impact on the  immune system. The Charente Maritimes is one of the main areas of collection of saltwort, it has a unique taste but can change. Indeed, with several taste experiments, I noticed that the taste varies according to the seasons. In spring, the salicornia is crunchy and full while in summer, it is more bitter. These different tastes lead to a variety of recipes depending on the season. 

With all these products, your little trip to the island of Ré will become a gustatory journey with uncommon but high quality products.


What to bring back from the Island ?

Here are a few shopping ideas if you want to bring back some very typical products from the Island of Ré. 

Honey of the island of Ré, a fruity and acidulous honey with unique textures of the island of Ré for a festival of flavor.

Plush with the effigy of the donkey in pants. It is the emblem of the island of Re.

Caramel with salt flower, it is also an artisanal product indeed the caramel flower of only is a speciality of the island then why not to bring back some for the most greedy.

Salt of the island of Ré, to note that there are incredible mixtures of spices with the salt which will raise your dishes.

Donkey milk soap, typical product of the island of Re, this soap is known for its benefits for the skin.

Inspired by this getaway ?  Discover the islands of Charentes, from l'Ile d'Oléron to Aix or La Rochelle, maybe on sailing boat, and     combine it with a trip to Cognac or to Bordeaux, located a couple of hours from there. 

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