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Ile De Re Advice PLEASE

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Mar 18th, 2013, 04:44 PM
  #1
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Ile De Re Advice PLEASE

We are planning on going to Ile De re for a week early July. Is a week to long to just be there?
We were looking at Villa Clariss or the Hotel Toiras or the Relais Chateaux in Flotte. Is it better to be in St Martin or Flotte?
We are two american adults in our early 60's will we feel out of place not speaking French?
I love the way it sounds. Please let me know your thoughts. It all sounds so charming, relaxing and just lovely.
Where would you stay?
Restaurant advice?
Day trips?
would love to know anyones thoughts.....
Thanks so much!
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Mar 18th, 2013, 04:57 PM
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Ile de Ré is lovely, but I don't know if I could last a week there - I'd probably split it up with a couple of days in/around La Rochelle. St-Martin is of course the "capital" and very toney and swank (not my style, really, but I can handle it for an afternoon). I love La Flotte. It has a nice beach and some more laid-back cafés and restaurants and is just a pretty place with a more "normal" atmosphere. But you should definitely at least visit St-Martin and familiarize yourself with the history of the place - it's quite fascinating, but I'm not going to spoil it for you.

I don't know what it would be like not speaking French, as I do; I imagine, it being a celebrity playground, they have plenty of visitors who don't speak the language and manage just fine. As for daytrips, if you're talking about on the island itself, it's quite small and you can visit the Phare and some of the other towns, but you can get around the place easily in a day. On the other hand, it's a good place just to chill and relax.

Can't speak to restaurants, as the first few times I was there were quite a few years ago with my kids and I don't have any recollection of which restaurants we ate at (there are plenty, though). This past September, SO and I just sent out there from La Rochelle, stopped at a supermarket, bought bread and cheese and fruit and beer and had a picnic on the beach at La Flotte, then went to St-Martin and had a coffee at a café. If you're so inclined, you can click on my screen name, look for my trip report entitled "Not a Trip Report," and look for "Today Is Ile de Ré Day." It will I hope provide you with some impressions of our most recent day there.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 06:01 PM
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If you bicycle, there are paths separate from the automobile road on the island.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57622845839973

With a car there is nothing to stop you from using the Île de Ré as a base to visit the Charente, including La Rochelle.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 06:09 PM
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Thank you! Maybe we spend a nite or two in Paris than take the tgv toward that area. Would you recommend The Hotel Toiras, Villa Clarisse or The Richeleaux or maybe another I haven't found yet? For us this will be fun just because it is so different than NYC!
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Mar 19th, 2013, 04:20 AM
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Can anyone tell me if there are other places near Ile de Re that would be interesting to visit as well? Maybe we shouldn't be spending the whole time on this quaint island?
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Mar 19th, 2013, 10:16 AM
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You might want to get the Michelin Green Guide for the Atlantic Coast, which will provide far more information that you can choose according to your interests than members of this board could provide.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 11:15 AM
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The Richeleaux was lovely. We arrived late in the day and requested a room and if possible a discount. Got both (just over 50% off)!! Not much in the line of foot traffic at that time of day and better have a room generating some $ than sit empty. If you don't ask you don't get!!! Had not planned on IdeR but once over the bridge it seemed a very good choice. Salt Flats were interesting, beach niice and clean and Flotte was worth a look see but a week?? Maybe not that long.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 01:32 PM
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Seriously you should look at rent a bicycle or two (or even a tandem) http://www.mybikeguide.co.uk/Ile_de_Re_Guide.php The light house at the end with the ancient fish traps is a good day out, but the place is about relaxing, eating shell fish and relaxing. The Michelin is a good idea.

I think St Martin is the place to be seen but La Flotte is more laid back either is good. Bar staff are going to speak English as UK bankers, Russian mafia and Parisian stars hang out there in August.

I think all your hotels are part of the Relais chain, not my sort of thing so not able to help. If you want somewhere with excellent service but out in the sticks then lesvignesdelachapelle.com is interesting but probably not if you are into Relais type hotels
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Mar 19th, 2013, 01:32 PM
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I am not a big fan of the Ile de Ré myself, but it is basically because I have never had the opportunity to spend time there. I consider it to be a totally flat completely boring place with not much to do, but if I were like the fans, I would be spending a month there every year, which allows the charm to take hold. I am not at all sure that just a week there would be enough to "appreciate" the place. And therefore, I would very much prefer La Rochelle as a place to stay for a week, with perhaps one excursion to Ile de Ré while I was there (the toll on the bridge would already prevent excessive visits).
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Mar 19th, 2013, 01:55 PM
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I have been to Ile de Re 3 or 4 times, usually for a couple of days to break up the (wonderful) monotony of all chateaux all the time that the Loire valley can become. We have stayed at the Richelieu and La Toiras and liked them both. The latter is smaller and feels more "homey". Both are charming. I do not know the other hotel you mention. I can see how folks who own sumer homes there love it--like Cape Cod, Nantucket, etc. But unless you can really enjoy just living in a lovely area and not doing much for a vacation I would think you might prefer to spend a couple of days there getting rested and then 2 or 3 in La Rochelle where there is more to do and see. I will look up some of the restaurants we have eaten at there and post again to help with that question.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 02:20 PM
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JulieVikmanis what you are suggesting than is a few days in La Rochelle and than a couple of days in Ile de Re? I am beginning to think that we need to do more exploring and traveling and maybe end up there for our last weekend for a couple of days than head back to Paris and a flight out. Maybe spend two days ( two nights?) Paris than take the TGV down to La Rochelle spend a couple of nights than go over the bridge and spend the last weekend in Ile de Re? Where did you stay in La Rochelle btw? Any suggestions? We love to explore, eat, shop, walk, explore some more I don't want to just sit on the beach so maybe a few days is enough.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 02:39 PM
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Centeno it seems you are not contemplating having a car there, so our experience of the area (only 6 months ago) may not be much use to you. For the record, however, we stayed at a peaceful village midway between the Marais Poitevin and La Rochelle and visited both. La Rochelle is a lovely city - vibrant, entertaining, grand old buildings, good shopping and eating. We found the Ile de Re quiet and restful, and could imagine it being great for a bit of "chill-out" time between busier destinations.

For the record, if you are thinking of renting a car, the Marais Poitevin is fascinating too, with scenic canals, lovely villages, and picturesque ruins.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 03:18 PM
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There's a beach right in La Rochelle, BTW.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 03:24 PM
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As gourmet salt is all the rage, we were fascinated to see them harvesting it on the Ile de Rei.http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/inde...roducts_id=357
We biked through the island and really enjoyed it as a day trip from La Rochelle.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 04:07 PM
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Gourmet salt.... I am so amazed at what they can convince people to buy. NaCl.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 05:30 PM
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snowgirls how many days did yo stay in La Rochelle? twoflower thank you for the recommendations of other lovely towns. I will check them out! I was thinking we might want to rent a car and actually that was my next question...if we should
Any hotels you can recommend in La Rochelle or Marais Poitevin?
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Mar 19th, 2013, 06:56 PM
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Kerouac, I totally agree...it's amazing how they get people to pay premium prices for...salt. We had a moment in September when our rental car was running low on gas and we were on Ile de Ré (chronicled in my trip report) and finally found a gas station and filled up, and they had Sel for sale for absolutely outrageous prices. I get that's because they have big costs associated with harvesting it, and I appreciate that, but still...
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Mar 19th, 2013, 10:35 PM
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My late husband and I stayed in La Rochelle and visited the
Ile De Re, mostly because I love the bridge that takes you there.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 11:01 PM
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it's amazing how they get people to pay premium prices for...salt.

That's because those taken in don't know that the gros sel is readily available in supermarkets.
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Mar 20th, 2013, 04:09 AM
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Just realized that our last time on Ile de Re was 2006 so my dining recs aren't very current but I'm guessing that the place tries not to change a lot so they may still be ok. Anyway, when we last stayed it was at St Martin at Toiras. We dined at Skippers which was recommended by the hotel and very good. There was a fun Saturday market so if you stay on a weekend that will add some interest. Also dined at Parroquet Noir which was acceptable but not stellar. On Sunday we went to La Flotte for their market. La Toiras served dinner while we were there--don't know if that's still the case--lovely, homelike dining area for a few guests and set menu with good food. Loved their salt caramel liquor. We had a lovely fruits de mer lunch at Richelieu on an earlier trip. I assume they still maintain high standards.

Though I have planned a trip more recently with intent to stay in La Rochelle we wound up going in another direction instead so I can't provide first hand info on hotels there. We have eaten there, however, on a couple of occasions while staying on Ile de Re. We really like Les Flots on the harbor owned by Gregory Coutanceau, son of the chef who has a lovely two star restaurant there--which is great, by the way. We think Les Flots is probably one of, if not the, best of a great looking lot along the harbor. Nice service and great views with very good food.

While I was planning a stay in La Rochelle, I looked at day trips to Rochefort, Saintes and Cognac and was hopeful of exploring Marais Poitevin as others have suggested.

I think the idea of spending a couple of days (on the weekend if possible to enjoy the markets) just relaxing on Ile de Re before flying home from Paris is a good pan--if you can find availability. Parking can prove really difficult (we were last there on Frnch Labor Day weekend which is akin to July and August for tourism there) so if you decide not to have a car on the island, you can rent bikes. It's a fairly easy trip between La Flotte and St. Martin. La Toiras is quite small so it could be booked up already, but if not, I'd suggest staying there and biking on Sunday to La Flotte for the market and having lunch at Richelieu before biking back. Otherwise just laze about exploring little nooks and crannies in St. Martin.
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