A selection of Île de Ré’s best restaurants, hotels, spas and nautical pleasures

Fancy a bit of a change? Then cross over the bridge from La Rochelle and go relax on Île de Ré. Hotels, spas, restaurants and nautical pleasures, there’s definitely something for everyone.

1 - Head out to sea for a few hours

From the beginning of April to the end of October, the two catamarans of the Blue Note boat tours in La Flotte head out to sea twice a day.

Blue Note invites its passengers for a two-hour trip off Île de Ré and the Port of Saint-Martin.
For the half-day trip, direction the bay known as the Fier d'Ars-en-Ré to discover a host of migratory birds who find refuge there and the Banc du Bûcheron, a sand spit which is revealed at low tide. As for the full-day trip, it takes in a tour of Fort Boyard and a two-hour stop-off on Île d’Aix.
You’ll be spoilt for choice on board: help sail the catamaran, fish… or dive into the sea if the weather permits.

Catamarans Blue Note
Prices: two hours: adult, €35; under 10s, €25; half-day: adult, €55; under 10s, €40; full-day: adult, €85; under 10s, €55.

2 - Lunch on the port

Fresh vanilla-flavoured langoustines, sea bass with roucou (Amazonian seed), salmon carpaccio with fresh ginger and soy… Philippe Bodart, the owner of La Baleine Bleue, has brought back a host of recipes and spices from his numerous trips to the Caribbean which he proposes to his customers in dishes which conjure up far, distant lands. Everything is homemade with local produce.

And, a little extra something… the three terraces (north, south and west) offer a panoramic view over the Port of Saint-Martin. Inside, photos of the many evening events organized in La Baleine Bleue adorn the walls. Because the restaurant becomes a lounge bar from dusk until 2 o’clock in the morning.

La Baleine Bleue restaurant

Open daily in July-August (low season: closed Monday evenings and Tuesdays), from 12pm to 2am. Formulas at €29 and €36 at midday; menu at €45 and à la carte service in the evening.

3 - Ready to be pampered in the spa

Hot stone or essential oil massage, sea-salt scrub, hammam, sensorial shower, foot-spa… The spa of the four-star Hotel Clos Saint-Martin welcomes women, men and teenagers every day, from 10am to 7pm in its 200m2 space dedicated to Clarins treatments and is open to hotel guests as well as non-residents.

Why not extend this relaxing interlude by taking time out in a peaceful setting on one of the six wooden sun-beds with a view over one of the hotel’s two 28-degree-heated pools and their green surroundings.

Hotel Spa Clos Saint Martin

By appointment only. Stroll through the spa: free for hotel guests, €15 for non-residents. Hot stone massage (1h): €120. Sea-salt scrub (45 min): €70.

4 - Water thrills and speed

In La Couarde-sur-Mer, on Boutillon Beach, Jet Révasion proposes jet skiing and tubing outings. Three instructors supervise the jet ski trips which are accessible with or without a boating licence.

For beginners, a 30-minute initiation (for two) is proposed just off the beach (€80). You may also opt for a one-hour trip from the Grignon Headland, at Ars-en-Ré to Bois-Plage-en-Ré (€115) or an hour and a half, from the Baleines Lighthouse, at Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, to the Île de Ré Bridge (€150).

Then again, why not have a go at tubing. Jet Révasion proposes three models which can carry four people, from the age of 10: the banana, where you sit behind one another, the sofa, where you sit next to each other and, for even more thrills and spills in the bends, the airstream where you lie flat on your stomach.

Jet Révasion

Open daily from 10am to 8pm. Booking required 48 hours beforehand. Tubing: €20 for twenty minutes per person.

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5 - Aperitif with your feet in the sand

With its large palm trees, its straw parasols and its wooden tables, a holiday spirit is forever in the air throughout the year in La Cible bar-restaurant located on the beach of Saint-Martin-de-Ré.
Here, people come to delight in the homemade dishes prepared with local produce or to sip on a raspberry mojito or one of the 17 champagnes on the list… or even a glass of wine from the sixty-odd proposed.

Outside, the panoramic covered terrace can host up to 70 seated and the terrace on the sand around a hundred people. Extra little something, the palm trees also accommodate a pétanque ground.

At 6pm, aperitif-time planchas reign supreme. On the menu… cold meats, cheese, Cognac caviar and hot-roll tuna maki. From 10:30pm every evening during summer and on Fridays and Saturdays the rest of the year, the DJ gets behind his decks to heat up the atmosphere and get the music started.

La Cible

Midday from 12pm to 2:30pm; Evenings: first service at 7:30pm, second service at 10:15pm. Open from 9am to 2am from 15 March to 31 October.

6 - Fish galore

At the fish restaurant L'Ecailler, the oldest establishment on the La Flotte-en-Ré Port (dating back to 1652), it’s the market that creates the menu. Robert Blic the owner, assisted by his wife Catherine, heads off to the fish market every morning to buy wild fish exclusively. And is supplied with sole, cuttlefish and skate by a fisherman from Saint-Martin-de-Ré.

His star dishes: monkfish casserole and langoustine tartare flavoured with special Aquitaine oysters and caviar. The oysters come from La Flotte-en-Ré and from Bourcefranc-le-Chapus for the Gillardeau specials.

L’Ecailler

Prices: midday (including weekends) discovery menus at €41 and €47, fisherman’s menu at €61 and €67; in the evening à la carte service. Open from Wednesday to Sunday; and, from 15 June to 31 August, from Tuesday to Sunday; from 12:15pm to 2:30pm and from 7:30pm to 10pm.

7 - A night with the figures of Île de Ré

The Duke of Buckingham and his exotic-wood-decorated suite, with Carrara marble in the bathroom; the Marshal de Toiras and his suite with its lounge furnished with a Louis XIV wardrobe and a lion-paw bath tub.

At the entrance to the Port of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, in the Hôtel de Toiras, each of the eleven rooms and nine suites alludes to famous figures related to the history of Île de Ré. “We wished to offer an atmosphere inspired by the life of these historic figures to evoke our island’s heritage”, explains Olivia Le Calvez, the establishment owner. This former dwelling of 17th-century shipowners, now a five-star hotel and member of the “Relais & Châteaux” network, also has its own restaurant with La Table d'Olivia. A total of fifteen people may delight in Chef Thierry Bouhier’s gastronomic cuisine (homemade).
Hôtel de Toiras*****

Prices: rooms from €220 in low season, suites from €399.

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