Just outside the Atlantic port of La Rochelle, a 3-km road bridge reaches out to Ile de Re, a holiday island measuring some 30 km in length but just 5 km at its widest point.

Visit in summer to enjoy swimming, sunbathing and water sports along its many sandy beaches. Stay out-of-season and to ride a horse along empty trails, pilot a sand yacht on a deserted beach; and experience the relaxed pace of authentic island life.

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Explore Ile de Re’s ten enchanting villages where narrow lanes are fringed with whitewashed houses. Taste island produce at the daily food market in La Flotte-en-Ré. Browse the craft shops and galleries of Saint-Martin-de-Re with its Vauban citadel, star-shaped ramparts and bustling harbour. For a seagull’s eye view, climb the bell tower in Saint-Martin or head to the Phare des Baleines lighthouse.

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Take a trip to Saint Martin de Ré to discover the history of the island. Today classed as a UNESCO world heritage site for its Vauban fortifications, it played a critical role in protecting the island from the invading English navy and the walls still bear testament to the battles fought.

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The highest point of Ile de Re is just 19 metres above sea level so there’s no better way to experience the island’s natural environment than to cycle its 100 km network of marked trails. Along the way you can learn about salt production and fishing, flora, fauna and local traditions at a variety of heritage centres and nature reserves.