While reports of a nationwide ‘staycation’ are rife in the UK, travelling across the Channel this summer to the stunning island of Ile de Ré promises to be a chic alternative – and you could even enjoy a spot of finer weather!
France’s crown jewel, nestled at the end of a bridge from the mainland and half an hour from the city of La Rochelle, Ile de Ré oozes French charm with its pretty, traditional villages, peppered with white-washed, green-shuttered houses and has long been a secret holiday haven for affluent Parisians.
Long stretches of golden-hued beaches are the instant pull for most visitors and despite the chilly Atlantic ocean, in high summer adventurous swimmers can be spotted cooling off – or at least dipping their toe.
But it’s not all about lazing around, taking in the sunshine rays. For the active amongst us, the island boasts some of the most breathtaking cycling routes in France, through fascinating salt marshlands where nature lovers can indulge themselves with countless species of birds (300 to be precise) and beautiful landscapes that are a dream for the green-fingered amongst us.
Perfect for families, you can hire bikes and set off on the quietest of roads, criss-crossing between harbours and beaches, vineyards and olds forts and lose yourself down pretty lanes, covered with roses and honeysuckle.
Renowned for its oyster beds to the north-east of the isle, make a beeline for Ile de Ré’s capital, St-Martin, to taste the fresh delicacy first-hand.
The quaint fishing port boasts a host of well-established eateries; head to the quayside for good value, fresh and traditional fare. Les Remparts restaurant is a popular haunt with a chic piano bar upstairs and Le Bistrot de Bernard holds a reputation for excellent French cuisine.
READ MORE ON THE ISLAND HERE
How to get there: The nearest airport is La Rochelle, a half hour drive from Ile de Ré.
Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies from London Stansted and Flybe (www.flybe.com) flies to La Rochelle from Birmingham, Manchester and Southampton