Author: James Bryant
Re (pronounced ‘ray’) is 30 km long and 5 km wide, sandy island reached by wonderful two-mile toll (expensive says dad, exclusive says mum) bridge that curves out to sea from La Rochelle – it’s the allegedly longest bridge in France. It is also bike heaven, the island is as flat as a crepe and everyone effortlessly cycles everywhere, there are 100 km of routes.
These are made up of dedicated cycle tracks and roads crisscrossing through vineyards, pine forests, pretty french villages, past fishing harbours, salt pans, oyster farms and all over the entire island. On top of that – quite literally – there are the fortress ramparts that encase villages like St Martin – one of Unesco’s World Heritage sites and La Flotte, with paths made for pleasant coastal excursions. There is also an unfortunately-named town called Ars-en-Re, which we all loved to repeat over and over, but actually, we all thought it was hilarious, and even more so when we found out that the locals shorten it to Ars (pronounced ‘Arse’).
This small town has an unusual black church spire which apparently serves as a daytime landmark for shipping, however, it didn’t seem to have the same effect for us and we perhaps would have been better served using GPS, as whilst on our bikes, we managed as a family, to get completely lost here and I will never forget this ancient town, for probably, all of the wrong reasons! It is possible to learn a lot about local life on the island by visiting one of the heritage centres and nature reserves to find out about the islanders history, traditions and the natural environment. This enables your parents to feel that they have given you some insight into the culture. The beaches are everywhere and this is the perfect place for running along barefoot flying a kite (which I did), playing hide and seek in the dunes, picking your way through the rock pools and picnicking on the sand. Fun, Fun, Fun!