There were many surprises on Îl de Ré and they started right from the time we crossed the bridge from La Rochelle. The toll was a nasty €16! Next surprise was our accommodation. The streets were like a rabbit warren and once we found where we were staying things continued to surprise us. From the outside it looked basic but inside our room with ensuite and mini courtyard garden were charming. As it wasn’t quite time to eat dinner we went for a short walk through St Marie de Ré past a few shops and cafés and down to the beach.
On our return to the cafe area we came to the Bistrot du Bar à Quai which had quite a few people in the courtyard bar drinking and several more in the restaurant section. We had a drink once we had placed our orders. I had a nice local beer from La Rochelle. The waiter certainly scurried around showing people to tables, taking orders and bringing out food. Sadly the food didn’t match his industriousness. Karen’s chicken club sandwich was pretty average and my fish was barely cooked. Underwhelming is a word that comes to mind. As it turned out the beer was the best part.
The next morning when we went for breakfast in our hosts’ dining area there was an even bigger secret garden! Plus two other guests from Belgium spoke a bit of English so we had a lovely time chatting in a mixture of English and French.
Marie, our host informed us that a nearby village, La Flotte, had a Saturday market. She suggested taking their spare bikes and cycling over as car parking would be difficult and the well maintained bike paths were mostly flat. So off we rode across the island to the north. Lots of vineyards either side of us as we rode. It didn’t take long to reach La Flotte, about 45 minutes. We parked our bikes in a row at the edge of the shopping/market area and off we went.
The patisserie looked tempting but as we had eaten a very big breakfast we kept moving.
The array on offer was impressive for such a small village. From spices to seasonal fruit and vegetables, fish, saussisons, local wine, cheeses and other deli goods.
Stallholders were keen for business and that was good for the customers as many free samples were being offered.
Personally we found the strawberries too good to pass up.
Again we fell to temptation, this time in the bakery.
Having had a good look around we decided to join the many others on bikes and continue our ride. Firstly past the marina at La Flotte.
Next we followed the bike path along the foreshore,
even passing some white bathing boxes, smaller and less colourful than those we have at home,
towards St Martin de Ré, the biggest town on the island.
After looking around there we made our way back to St Marie de Ré. This was the longest leg of the triangle we rode and we tired as we went. Every now and then we stopped to admire the scenery, mostly vineyards but there was even a windmill at one point.
Once we were back at our little room we prepared lunch from our purchases and sat and ate it in the courtyard garden, happy with our little bike riding adventure.