1. An artisan ice cream maker to melt for on the harbour in Saint Martin!
Rated as one of the Top 5 ice cream makers in the Gault et Millau gourmet guide, this artisanal producer offers no fewer than 77 flavours of ice cream, from the most traditional chocolate and vanilla, to the most eccentric, such as oyster caviar, gazelle horns and potato (made using a puree of PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) potatoes grown on the island, blended with caramel ice cream and caramelised potatoes)
Their speciality - sea salt caramel - is a wonderful experience that you should absolutely not miss out on!
In this family business, everything is produced on the premises using as much local produce as possible. For a few years now, they have expanded their range with products that combine ice cream with pastries. Between you and me, you really need to taste the frozen macaroons: a total indulgence.
As you stroll around the Harbour in Saint Martin, you know precisely where to find this shop, because there’s always a queue outside! They also have a number of collection points where you can collect your orders: the Phare des Baleines, Sainte Marie and La Flotte.
LE GLACIER, SAINT-MARTIN
17 quai de La Poithevinière, 17 410 Saint Martin de Ré
Tel: +33 (0)5 46 09 20 99
OPEN EVERY DAY FROM 10:30 AM TO 9:30 PM (11 PM IN JULY AND AUGUST).
2. The ultimate appetiser at the heart of the Les Portes en Ré marshes
This is the place to come for oysters, for the oyster hut experience and to take in the magnificent view over the bay known as the Fier d’Ars… once you’re there, you won’t want to leave!
It’s true that the way in isn’t particularly appealing, but don’t let that put you off: at the very end (after the golf course), as you reach the top of a low hillock, the paradise of the end of the world awaits for a unique tasting experience.
A few wooden tables, marshes as far as the eye can see, birdsong, oysters, shellfish and a glass of good wine... what more could you need!
Definitely to be visited with friends at drinks time.
Huîtres de Trousse-Chemise
Route de la Levée-Verte, 17880 Les Portes-en-Ré
Tastings at the Oyster hut
- April, May, June and September:
Midday to 2:30 pm every lunchtime from Tuesday to Sunday
Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 6:30 pm to 9 pm
- July and August:
Lunchtimes and evenings from Tuesday to Sunday
- July and August:
Home delivery throughout France.
Available in the Portes en Ré all year round.
Open all year to buy oysters and shellfish.
3. Jam as it used to be at Le Jardin de Lydie, Le Bois Plage
Not far from the church in Bois-Plage-en-Ré, you can’t miss the pretty green frontage of Lydie’s shop. Walk straight in, because inside - just like inside her pots of jam - it’s all good, and all delicious! In her copper cauldrons, Lydie Colin carefully simmers delicious jams made with properly mature seasonal fruits.
Definitely don’t miss her Mara des Bois strawberry jam; it’s a delight! You should also try the salted butter caramel that Lydie suggests you enjoy with still-warm crêpes or on hot apple tart.
My personal favourite is her ‘Rétaise’ jam, made with melon, green tomato, orange and lemon: an absolute revelation!
Le jardin de Lydie
23 Place de l'Eglise, Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré
+33 (0)5 46 09 40 41
4. Discover the perfect marriage between salt and chocolate in Saint Martin
Ever since 1975, Artisan Chocolatier Éric Vallégeas has been creating regional speciality products using local produce, including Charentes-Poitou PDO butter and Île de Ré Fleur de Sel sea salt. Éric offers a range of chocolate and caramel delights that celebrate the best of the island’s produce and traditions.
My recommendation is his Pilots de Sel (A white chocolate shell filled with sea salt flavoured ganache), Pearls of Ré (a soft caramel coated in dark chocolate and sprinkled with icing sugar) and Mojettes (caramelised brown nougat in white chocolate).
Be warned... to taste it is to love it!
Ile de Ré chocolats
The shop is open from Tuesday to Saturday (as well as Monday in July and August).
From 9:30 am to 1pm, and 3 pm to 7 pm.
Introductory tours with chocolate making demonstration by the chocolatier: All year between 10:30 am and 3:30 pm every day except Saturday. Group bookings available: €3 per person
15, avenue de Philippsburg, 17410 Saint-Martin de Ré
+33 (0)5 46 09 22 09
5. Exceptional cheeses in Loix
The only producer of goats cheese on the Île de Ré offers a superb range of traditional and gourmet cheeses. One taste and you’ll want to finish the whole cheese! Highly rated even by other cheesemakers, their products are sold through the best cheese merchants in France. Tasting them here on the island means that you get to enjoy them fresh (unripened)... a very real privilege!
Available every morning in the market at Bois Plage, and in their shop in Loix, the goat farmers offer 11 varieties of cheese, including five-spice, Espelette pepper, black pepper, ash-coated, fennel and, of course, sea salt.
You can even take a tour of the farm if you ask nicely...
Fromagerie, chèvrerie Georgelet (ex. Lefort)
Open every day from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Chemin du Corps-de-Garde, Loix.
+33 (0)5 46 29 04 11.
6. The delicious sweetness of Rivedoux
This has been a family passion for four generations.
Beekeeper Aude Chupin welcomes you to her house of honey, and introduces you to all the secrets of how she makes local products, such as Île de Ré honey, homemade gingerbread, royal jelly, lozenges and wax.
You’ll also discover a more surprising product: honey vinegar with samphire.
The guided tour of the honey house and workshop is followed by a tasting.
In July and August: Tuesday at 4:30 pm. Honey and honey products are available to buy.
For the free tour, the minimum group size is 10, and the maximum 40.
You’ll also find Aude Chupin at one of the Île de Ré markets every morning.
l'Abeille Réthaise - Aude Chupin
Zone artisanale du fond du marais, 45 rue des varennes, 17940 Rivedoux-Plage
+33 (0)6 84 22 89 37
7. A passionate and fascinating wine merchant in Saint Martin
If there had to be only one, it would be him: La vinatière, THE Île de Ré wine merchant! Laurent Sallée has owned this wine shop in the shopping streets of Saint Martin not far from the harbour since 1983. With his comprehensive knowledge of the island’s wines and indeed the wines of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, you can rely on expert advice in your choice of whites, reds or rosés. All the star wines to accompany local produce are here: Rosé des Dunes or Le Royal, as well as local beers.
His shop also offers an excellent selection of pineaux and cognacs, as well as high-quality wines from elsewhere in France.
Have no fear... the prices are reasonable and the advice is expert.
32, rue de Sully
Tél. +33 (0)5 46 09 13 06
8. A very special dining experience at Saint Clément des Baleines
This is undoubtedly the best place on the island for an éclade of mussels! An éclade is a very traditional feature of charentaise cuisine in which mussels are painstakingly arranged in the shape of a flower and cooked on a thick bed of pine needles.
This restaurant takes you on a voyage of discovery into the authentic flavours of the island: home cooking, fish and seafood, and seasonal produce... all just a short walk from the Phare des Baleines lighthouse!
Open from 1 April to 1 November
open from 1 April to 1 November
9 allée du Phare, 17590 Saint-Clément-des-Baleines
+33 (0)5 46 42 26 91
9. Be worth your salt at La Couarde
Close to the cycle path between Sainte-Marie and Bois Plage, fall under the spell of this modest shop in a former salt shed. From a family of salt harvesters, Isabelle will welcome you in to discover the end product of one of the oldest trades of the island.
In her shop, you’ll find many products of this ancient industry: rock salt, flavoured salt, the emblematic fleur de sel harvested from the delicate crust that forms on seawater as it evaporates, as well as local jams, caramels and other products. Fabulous gifts at affordable prices!
Isabelle offers free tours of the salt marsh during the summer months, subject to availability.
Open every day from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, and 2:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Open from 1 April to 30 September. Tours of the salt marsh in July and August (free of charge). Open Sundays.
Le sel d'Isabelle
1B Rue du Levant, 17670 La Couarde-sur-Mer
+33 (0)5 46 41 70 84
10. Brewing up the pleasure in Sainte Marie
In the commune of Sainte Marie of inland Île de Ré, the Bières de Ré craft brewery was set up in 1996 by an Austrian master brewer who had fallen in love with the island... and it’s not hard to understand why!
His brews are beers of exceptional and authentic quality crafted using traditional methods and the very best carefully-selected ingredients. 100% natural, with no preservatives, artificial colours or additives, these beers are brewed with malt and hops harvested solely in France. The result is beers with all the charm of the ocean: fresh and with the iodine tang of the sea.
The range includes craft beers and special ‘collectors’ beers. There’s also an organic version: wheat beers, lager-style beers and EXTRA Cognac (beer flavoured with Cognac). Try the lemonade too: it’s ultra-refreshing!
Brasserie Bières de Ré
RD 201, Parking Station Total, 17740 SAINTE-MARIE-DE-RÉ
+33 (0)5 46 43 82