7:30 am: Breakfast on the harbourside in La Flotte
Make the most of the fresh early morning in peace and quiet with a seat on one of the many harbourside terraces in La Flotte. On your table: the morning papers, a coffee, delicious fresh bread, unsalted Charentes-Poitou butter and local jam from Le Jardin de Lydie.
8:30-9:00 pm: Stop by the covered market in La Flotte
Unarguably the most unusual market on the Île de Ré! Surrounded by pedestrian-only streets, this market takes its inspiration from the mediaeval period, and offers not only excellent local produce, but also a very welcoming and friendly environment.
This is the place to buy one or two Charente melons, a large tray of Mara des Bois strawberries, some fresh seasonal fruit and a small crate of Île de Ré PDO new potatoes.
La Flotte market opening hours: Open all year round
10:30 pm (depending on the tides): move on to Le Martray to try some beach fishing
Lace up your boots, grab a few basic tools and a bucket, and hit the beach at Fiers d’Ars to forage shellfish just like the locals: clams, cockles and razor clams await. It’s a perfect opportunity to harvest today’s lunch and breathe your fill of healthy sea air.
But make sure you stick to the rules designed to protect this precious resource and promote eco-conscious fishing. You can read them here
1 pm: Lunch shaded by pines
It’s time to taste and enjoy all the produce you proudly gathered in the morning. Set up a well-laid table beneath the pine trees. Halve your melons, remove the pips and fill each half with three generous tablespoons of well-chilled Ilrhéa Pineau: now that's a real Charente starter!
Spread a generous slice of bread from the DoRéMi bakery with slightly salted Charentes-Poitou butter and enjoy your Fiers d’Ars shellfish raw or cooked, as you prefer. Complement your meal with a glass of local Royal white wine.
For dessert, Mara des Bois strawberries, with a light sprinkling of sugar and a vanilla pod.
3 pm: A snack and a drink
After your nap, treat yourself to a small snack and a well-chilled beer (or lemonade) before heading to the beach. The island's breweries produce delicious wheat beers, pale ales and lagers... so something for every taste.
You might want to add one of the local biscuits made on the island by the Biscuiterie de Ré.
If not, perhaps you could be tempted to head for the harbour in Saint Martin for one of the 77 flavours of ice cream from Maison La Martinière. This family ice cream business is an institution, and rated as one of the Top 5 ice cream makers in the Gault et Millau gourmet guide The champion of champions has to be the sea salt caramel, but you’ll find all the classic flavours too - Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, etc. - as well as more eccentric options such as gazelle horn, potato and oyster caviar.
Which one will make you melt with pleasure?
5 pm: time for a beach break
It’s the best time of the day to enjoy the beach. With its dunes and long fine sandy beach, Plage des Gollandières is ideal.
The more inquisitive could head for Saint Martin harbour to await the homecoming of the Jemapa - one of the last fishing boats in Saint Martin - just to enjoy the sight or to buy from the catch of the day direct from the boat.
7 pm: drinks in the salt marshes
The sun is beginning to dip towards the horizon, a drink with friends in the island’s most delightful oyster farming hut. Passionate oyster farmer Franck Moreau is ready to welcome you at the tip of the island on the bay of Fier d’Ars. The path might not look like anything special, but don’t be fooled into judging by appearances, because the best is yet to come...
Seated at one of the small tables provided for this very purpose, it’s definitely time for a drink! The hut experience, the friendly atmosphere, the incredible views over the salt marshes, and the lullaby of birdsong: it may seem like the end of the earth, but it’s actually paradise!
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
Home delivery throughout France.
Available in the Portes en Ré market all year round.
Open all year to buy oysters and shellfish.
8:30: dinner looking out over the bay of Fier d’Ars
To stay spellbound by the magical atmosphere of the salt marshes, dine here on the terrace with views over the bay of Fier d’Ars. Christophe Frigière is your host at the Cabane du Fier, where he offers you the freshest of the day’s produce from the market and sea cooked over a wood fire in a very ‘bistro’ atmosphere. The menu on the blackboard changes all the time, depending on catches, harvests and the season, but whatever is on it, you can be certain that it’s super-fresh. Lobster, cuttlefish, sea bass, Charente chowder, seven-hour cooked lamb or rib steak... You certainly won’t be disappointed.
But if you’d prefer to enjoy an evening at home, you can build your own typically rétais menu by simply grilling one of the fish you bought from the catch of the Jemapa. To go with it, dress the potatoes from La Flotte market with a little olive oil, Charentes butter, a handful of samphire and pinch of Île de Ré salt. And to accompany the meal, a well-chilled Rosé des Dunes (in moderation, of course)... your evening is now perfect!
10 pm: enjoy the soft warmth of a summer night
If you didn’t do so during the afternoon, or if you’re still hungry, take a night-time walk along Saint Martin harbour (very lively at this time during the summer months). Head straight to La Martinière and choose an ice cream to enjoy at your leisure as you walk the ramparts of the citadel. The view of the harbour from here is fabulous.
Or you might prefer to enjoy the soft warmth of the island night with one of its wonderful Cognacs outdoors. If you still have a little room left after this flavour-packed day, accompany your after-dinner liqueur with a treat from Île de Ré Chocolats: Perles de Ré (soft caramel in dark chocolate sprinkled with icing sugar) or Pilot de Sel (a chocolate speciality of the l'Île de Ré: a white chocolate shell filled with sea salt-flavoured ganache); two simple pleasures... but be careful, they can prove addictive!