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Charente-Maritime

With its Atlantic coastline, pretty seaside villages and unspoilt islands, the Charente-Maritime has been a long time favourite with those seeking sun, sea and sand. But travel inland and the Romanesque architecture, cognac producing vineyards and gallo-roman remains will capture your imagination. Find out more about the attractions in the Charente-Maritime here.

We have gathered a number of our favourite features on the Charente-Maritime below...

 

Get away...visit the Ile de Ré out of season

Get away...visit the Ile de Ré out of season

When you feel a need to get away from it all, or simply feel like a change of scenery, there are plenty of options. Out of season, the Ile de Ré can be perfect place to escape to...


ile de re 4925Leave it all behind by escaping to Ars en Ré

Where is it?

This charming market town sits between the Atlantic beaches and salt beds
(salins) on the Ile de Ré, off La Rochelle.

What can you do there?

Stroll along the beach...
Feel the wind in your hair and taste sea-spray on your face - Ré in winter is a magical place to be. Atlantic beaches are sandy and sometimes wild with rolling surf, while the calmer landward side has harbours, marshlands and forts to explore. Other walks from Ars en Ré include a 2hr circular Côte Sauvage route or a 2½hr ramble including the marais (marshland).

The Tourist Office has suggestions for themed walks, or buy a map and plan your own route. Footpaths, beaches and sites of interest are well signed.

Go Cycling

Open all year for cycle hire, a centrally located shop in Ars en Ré currently offers 10% discount for bikes reserved via their website. The choice includes adults’, children’s, tandems, electric bikes and even trailers for a small child or dog! They’ll give you a map to help you explore the safe and relatively flat cycle routes criss-crossing (and circumnavigating) the island. Cycles et Pêche Neveur, Place de la Chapelle, Ars-en-Ré www.cycles-neveur.com.

Go Birdwatching

Just north of Ars en Ré lies Lilleau des Niges, a marshland bird reserve managed by the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux. The visitor centre closes in winter but you can observe wildlife from the adjoining cycle path. The reserve is home to around 250 bird species, both residents and migrants just passing through. Take binoculars and warm clothing. Lilleau des Niges, Les Portesen-Ré. http://ile-de-re.lpo.fr/

Relax in a spa

Treat yourself to beneficial effects of thalassotherapy (seawater spa treatments), or one of the range of beauty treatments offered in three sites on the island:La Baronnie Hotel & Spa, St Martin de Ré, www.hotel-labaronnie.com
Hotel Restaurant and Spa Plaisir, Bois Plage en Ré, www.hotel-plaisir.com
Le Clos Saint Martin Hotel and Spa by Clarins, St Martin de Ré, www.le-clos-saint-martin.com

Where can you stay?

Le Sénéchal, 6, rue Gambetta, Ars en Ré, tel: 05 46 29 40 42 www.hotel-le-senechal.com: offers individually-styled rooms (and villas) to suit your needs. In mid-winter, hotel rooms start at 75€, or you could reserve an exceptional suite for 230€. The Hotel is located in the heart of the village, a few steps from shops and the market place. Its own cosy café doubles as an épicerie and delicatessen, perfect for warming up after a stroll to the harbour which also has a choice of restaurants.

Go shopping

See Living Poitou-Charentes August 2012 issue for ideas on where to find and taste products from Ré.
Daily markets are busy with both locals and tourists seeking inspiration and fresh produce.

Best markets

Ars en Ré - Tues and Fri during the winter – with a festive produce market on the 29th and 30th December.
St Martin has a colourful indoor market open every morning, and there’s a seasonal market from 22nd to 31st December (closed 25th December) on the Place de la République.
La Flotte’s daily outdoor market sells local produce and often hot food to take away.

Browse the boutiques

The many small, independently-owned boutiques are a delight, selling clothes and accessories not found elsewhere. The best places for clothes shopping are St Martin and La Flotte. And look for chocolatières – Ile de Ré Chocolats and Caramels in St Martin (www.iledere-chocolats.com) has a fine selection of luxury chocolates and winter treats.

We also recommend the Savonnerie de L’Ile de Ré (www.savonnerie-iledere.com), which has several shops on the island.

For information on visiting Ile de Ré in all seasons: www.iledere.com