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Ile de Ré: high quality properties for successful holidays
Bon Séjour en France specializes in high quality holiday lets which we have selected for you based on two general quality standards: the level of comfort and the location.
In terms of level of comfort, we expect our holiday lets to be well equipped (such as internet access, kettle, Nespresso coffee maker, iPod dock, heated pool...), to be clean, to provide comfortable bedding & to be tastefully decorated. We know that these will all contribute to the success of your holiday. Location, location, location, as they say in the trade, means we have graded your holiday let according to its proximity to a good beach, or its remoteness and tranquillity or, according to your tastes, its proximity to a port or the lively centre of a village.
Each house is marked on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, but rest assured that all our holiday lets (even those with only one star), have been chosen because we think they are good places to spend your holidays.
In addition to the description we provide on each holiday let, specific information on the 10 villages of the Ile de Re & on the Ile de Re beaches will help you ascertain for yourself the attraction of our island and appreciate whereabouts you would like to spend your holiday.
You are planning on spending your holidays in one of Bon Séjour en France’s holiday homes on the Ile de Re. Perhaps you hope to rent a beautiful villa with swimming pool in one of the Ile de Re’s 10 villages, or maybe you have opted for a charming cottage or an exclusive property: in this glossary, we have selected villages, tourist spots or simply words that characterize particularly well the Ile de Re area, to help you better uncover the beauties of the island. It will hopefully give you a deeper understanding of the region, in advance of your stay, and help you to prepare your outings and activities. Enjoy!
Abbaye des Châteliers
The Notre-Dame-de-Re abbey, also known as the Châteliers abbey, is a former Cistercian monastery, now fallen into ruin, situated in the eastern part of the Ile de Re, in La Flotte en Re, close to Rivedoux. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday rental)
Ars en Re
A village with a small port and marina on the north coast of the western end of the Ile de Re, Ars en Re has around 1 300 inhabitants.
Located at the end of the « fier d'Ars » (a stretch of seawater which enters the land with marshes on either side), the port is accessible via this channel which flows through the salt marshes.
Ars en Re has a beach on the south side, with a seawall that protects the land behind and which extends to the Baleines lighthouse at the westernmost tip of the island.
If you would like to rent a holiday home in Ars en Re, you will find a more detailed description of the village on the Bon Séjour en France website. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday home)
Le Bois-Plage en Re
This village of 2300 inhabitants, located on the south coast of the Ile de Re, includes the small hamlets of « Le Morinand » and « Rouland ». Le Bois Plage boasts several kilometres of beautiful sandy beaches behind its large dunes.
If you would like to rent a holiday home in Le Bois Plage en Re, you will find a more detailed description of the village on the Bon Séjour en France website. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday rentals)
Bucheron sand bank
The Bûcheron sand bank can be found in the northwest corner of the Ile de Re in the Breton Straits. Located at the entry point to the « fier d’Ars », between the villages of Loix and the Portes en Re, it is uncovered at low tide and can be reached on foot from the Trousse Chemise beach. If you rent a holiday home in the Portes, it’s worth the visit but you need to be careful of the incoming tide which can quickly cut you off from the mainland. The height of chic is to drop anchor just beside the sand bank and picnic there in the summer. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday accommodation)
460 hectares of the Ile de Re is devoted to salt farming for the small-scale production of sea salt. The Ile de Re salt farmers go under the name of « sauniers », « saulniers » or sometimes “paludiers” or « saliculteurs ».
Traditionally, salt farmers also had a second trade working as wine growers or market gardeners… Over the last few years, thanks to specific training schemes, young people from very different backgrounds have been setting up their own agricultural businesses producing sea salt and fine salt – the white gold of the Ile de Re. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday villa)
The salt marshes surround the « fier d’Ars » and the villages of Loix, Ars en Re, the Portes en Re and Saint-Clément des Baleines. As well as being salt producing areas, the salt marshes serve for oyster farming, fish farming, hunting and also as nature reserves. A large proportion of the salt marshes are untapped but offer a wonderful natural backdrop for cycling. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday gite)
The Saint-Martin-de-Re citadel was, for more than 50 years between 1873 and 1938, the gathering point for convicts sentenced to hard labour in French Guyana, Cayenne and New Caledonia as they waited to board their boats.
Nowadays, the Citadel, which has been a prison since the 18th century, is a high security prison with more than 400 inmates. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday lets)
Conche des Baleines
The Conche beach stretches from the Baleines lighthouse to the Petit Bec beach in the Portes. Probably one of the most beautiful beaches on the Ile de Re, the bay is sandy and wide, with clear (although on the nippy side) water and wonderful waves to attract surfers. Dunes run along the back of the beach and are essential to the natural balance of this area. Behind the dunes the Lizay forest is home to many species of pine through which a cycle path leads to the Portes en Re, allowing you to fully appreciate this exceptional nature reserve. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday cottage)
La Couarde sur Mer
This village, which is situated right in the middle of the Ile de Re boasts an enormous sandy beach which runs from Les Prises to Les Folies, over 5km away ! If you would like to rent a holiday home in La Couarde sur Mer, you will find a more detailed description of La Couarde on the Bon Séjour en France website. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday cottages)
If you enjoy birdwatching, you will often encounter the long billed curlew on the Ile de Re. It has a long thin bill which curves downwards, and brownish feathers which hardly change colour with the season. Curlews find food in the silt or in very soft ground, in which they rummage for worms and other invertebrates with their long beaks. They also eat crabs and similar small shellfish. The salt marshes around the « fier d’Ars » are a favourite hunting ground for the curlews. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday rental)
Sea erosion is an ever present issue on the Ile de Re. The sea walls are constantly battered by the swell and waves and particular attention is paid to their maintenance to ensure the protection of this small island, which inexorably is eaten away each year. The upkeep of the 54km of sea walls on the island is ongoing and expensive as is that of the natural defences that the dunes represent, covered as they are in marram grass and protected by wooden fencing. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday villas)
The use of fish locks dates back six centuries. Around 1900, there were still 140 working locks on the Ile de Re.
They act as small sea walls which help break up the swell thereby protecting the coast.
Nowadays, there are only about ten locks in existence, which have either survived or have been rebuilt by amateur enthusiasts to form part of the island’s natural wealth.
The reasons for the abandonment of this form of fishing are manifold – the exodus to the continent, the supply of fish elsewhere rendering the locks obsolete, the general diminishing of fish in the oceans, and the high cost of upkeep. Building a lock is a long process which requires between 10 000 and 20 000 hours work!
At high tide, the lock is completely covered by the sea; as the sea goes out, the biggest fish remain captive in the lock (cuttlefish, ray, sea bream, sole, bass and mullet). The smaller fish escape through the grids that close the gaps in the walls of the lock. (cat. : Ile de Re holiday gites)
« Estran » or « Platin »
« estran » or « platin » - or strand in English - are two terms you should get to know on the Ile de Re. They refer to the fringe of land which is uncovered at low tide and covered at high tide. This land is a natural area of great bio-diversity but which requires a fragile balance and is easily affected by pollution. During the spring and autumn tides, the strand becomes much bigger and gives the shell fishermen the opportunity to extend their hunting grounds. (cat. : ile de re holiday let)
La Flotte en Re
The village of La Flotte en Re figures on France’s list of most beautiful villages. La Flotte is a small port, close to Saint-Martin de Re, which faces onto the Pertuis Breton. If you are looking for a villa to rent in La Flotte en Re, you will find a more detailed description of the village on Bon Séjour en France’s website in the Ile de Re section. (cat. : holiday rental on the Ile de Re)
A « ganivelle » is a type of wooden fencing made up of vertical chestnut poles joined together with strong wire.
They are omnipresent around the dunes of the Ile de Re to prevent access to the dunes and help ensure that the plants necessary to stabilize the sand are not trampled and uprooted.
This wooden fencing also acts as a windbreak, decreasing wind speed across the Re dunes and thereby helping to protect them from erosion. (cat. : holiday rental ile de re)
Over and beyond their primary usage of indicating wind direction, the weather vanes on the Ile de Re could also give a clue as to the main activity of the owner whether wine grower, salt farmer or farmer. Nowadays, the weather vanes have an aesthetic role too on the roofs of certain Re holiday houses managed by Bon Séjour en France. (cat. : villa rental ile de re)
If your child says to you, when walking along the beach, « Mummy, I’ve found a baby tree », it’s very likely the skeleton of a sea coral known in French as a gorgon, which fixes itself to rocks with crampons. They are often find as decorative items in holiday villas for let on the Ile de Re. (cat. : holiday rentals ile de re)
Bois Henri IV
Spread over a 34 hectares area, this forest is located just outside La Couarde on the road to Ars en Re and was planted in the 19th century to help hold the dunes in place. The main species of tree to be found in the forest is the green oak. The forest gives its name to the beach which runs along behind it. This beach is also known as the Prises beach. (cat. : holiday lettings ile de re)
Oysters and oyster farming
The oyster farming activity is mainly to be found on the north coast of the island, along with the ports of the island (Rivedoux Plage, La Flotte en Re, Saint-Martin de Re, Loix), although there is some activity on the south coast of Ars-en-Re. In 2007, in the pertuis Breton, Re oyster farmers gradually began to try out a new method: deep water farming.
During your stay in your holiday rental villa on the Ile de Re, make sure you try out some oysters which are an important part of the island’s gourmet delicacies, fiercely maintained by around fifty oyster farmers. (cat. : villa rental ile de Re)
Retais, rhétais or Rethais ?
« H » or no « H » : even though local scholars seem to prefer no « H », many locals write the word with an « H ». This could be based on the latin origin of the island’s name, in late Roman times: « Rhéa ».
Under the roman empire, there is no written trace of the Ile de Re. The first trace dates from the sixth or seventh century under the name of Insula Ratis (later it became Insula Radis). So the «Rh » came later.
Later on, towards the end of the Middle Ages, someone had the bright idea of associating the island with the goddess Rhéa hence « Rhétais » and you even find «Rethais», as people suspect they should put an “h” without really knowing where it goes!
«Retais» is definitely the best format and «Rethais» the least. (cat. : holiday rental ile de Re)
La salicorne is a yearly plant that measures between 6 and 8 cm and which grows in clay soil full of salt. The salt marshes of the Ile de Re are particularly favourable to their development. Rich in vitamin C, calcium and iodine, saltwort is generally crystallized in vinegar and used as a condiment, a bit like gerkins. (cat. : location vacances ile de ré)
Lilleau des Niges
The Lilleau des Niges is a natural reserve lying in the Fier d'Ars marshes. It was created on the initiative of the Environmental Ministry in 1976. An indispensable link between the Arctic and Africa, Ré has allowed more than 300 species to be observed, which represents around one half of all European species. The grouping together of such a large number of different species attracts more than the usual amount of bird watchers. Artists, painters, nature lovers and photographers can all be found here trying to catch a glimpse of a rare species. (cat. : locations villa ile de ré)