Choosing a village on the Ile de Re?

To the question “As we don’t know the Ile de Ré, can you tell me which village I should choose for my holiday rental?” we always carefully weigh our response. Between a young couple with a baby looking for a calm holiday in the heart of nature near the unspoilt Ré coastline and a family with 3 teenagers looking for places to visit and plenty of activity, the choice of village won’t necessarily be the same.
To help you answer this question, we have rated each of the 10 villages on the Ile de Ré according to 4 significant criteria:

  1. How well the village has resisted the tide of change and retained its authentic character?
  2. The quality of its beaches, where are the sandy beaches, in particular whether you can enjoy the water at high tide as well as at low tide?
  3. The liveliness of the village during the daytime: are there a market or a summer market, shops, restaurants?
  4. The night life: is this a good place to be if you enjoy going out at night, to cafés, clubs or restaurants?

All these grades are, of course, subjective and you may well judge differently. However, we believe they are helpful in differentiating between 10 villages which at first glance seem very similar but, upon closer examination, are each unique & different.
These 10 Ile de Ré’s villages are graded on a scale of 1 to 4, 4 being the best mark. The last column gives the distance between the village & the Ile de Re’s bridge.

For further information, you can find a detailed presentation of each village in the following sections.


This first stop after the bridge offers impressive sandy beaches, revealing oyster parks at low tide, pine forests and a first glimpse of the island’s traditional white houses and streets lined with hollyhocks.

After crossing the Ile de Re’s bridge, Rivedoux is the first village of ths island to discover with its 2 beautiful sandy beaches, one to the South and one to the North, on each side of the bridge. This allows kitesurfers and windsurfers to make a wise decision, depending on the direction of the wind.

Its small port, dedicated to oyster farming, plays host to multi coloured fishing boats and offers a grandiose view of the Pertuis Breton at sunset.

On the south side, the Chauveau lighthouse is accessible at the very low tidal periods and is a paradise for digging for molluscs and shellfish on foot.

The holiday lets in Rivedoux available via Bon Séjour en France allow access to the sandy and well concealed beach on the south side with its sailing club and kite surfing possibilities, as well as the opportunity to explore the marshes of the Défend and the forest zone which stretches as far as La Flotte.


Located on the south coast of the island between Rivedoux and Le Bois-Plage, this village has kept the authentic character it had before the development of tourism.

Sainte-Marie is the first village you’ll come to when taking the south route around the island. It has managed to maintain its rural identity and is home to many oyster farmers and wine growers.

Easily recognisable from afar thanks to its superb gothic church tower, Sainte-Marie offers a range of activities to visitors: bathing, surfing at Les Grenettes, walks on foot or cycling along the wild coastline or through moorland and vineyards.

In 2002, the village became a Green Holiday Resort and is an ideal spot to recover from city life in a family oriented ambiance, either alone or with friends.

“Two faces, one village” is the motto of Sainte-Marie, host to a number of festivals, two markets, flea markets, long rambling footpaths and numerous cycle paths. What is surprising is that this small village is 5km long, stretching from the renowned seawater treatment centre to the east, to the Grenettes area to the west, passing by the church square, the market square of Place d’Antioche and through the Tilleuls square with its restaurants and various shops.

The transition from the rural landscapes of the vineyards and bramble filled moors to the seascapes of medieval fish locks which trapped the fish as the tide went out, and low water rock shelves is seamless.

In a nutshell, Sainte-Marie provides a perfect holiday home backdrop for those who enjoy living in the country and long rambles through the vineyards to those who prefer the more urban attractions of La Flotte or Saint-Martin.

La Flotte

Located on the north coast between the villages of Rivedoux and Saint-Martin & rated amongst the most beautiful villages in France, La Flotte remains faithful to the typical image of the Ile de Ré…

La Flotte remains faithful to the typical image of the Ile de Ré. Sheltered from the ocean by the Pertuis Breton, its port, like that of Saint-Martin, faces the Vendée coast.

La Flotte en Re was once an important fishing and seaport and the vestiges of that time can still be seen in the magnificent dwellings that surround the port. Twisting roads and alleyways, lined with the omnipresent hollyhocks complete the décor.

In La Flotte, the holiday lets we have available are never far from the port as well as near the other treasure of this village – the medieval and very lively market place. This oldest market on the island will enchant you with its medieval arches sheltering a whole host of stands, its cobbles and the old tiles of its rooftops. You’ll have no difficulty finding here all the produce of which the island is so proud: oysters, salt, potatoes, pineau…

If it’s the ocean that you prefer, take the opportunity to explore the coastline from the Fort de La Prée at the eastern extremity of La Flotte, past the ruined abbey of the Châteliers, past the village and out the other end, along the coastal path complete with sailing club, oyster farmers and bunkers left over from the Second World War.


Renowned capital of the island thanks to its historical Vauban fortifications, Saint-Martin de Ré is today part of the World Humanity Heritage Site of the UNESCO since July 2008.

Even though it has lost its place as the most densely populated village, it will always be considered the island’s capital. You should take some time to visit this small town, or better still stay here, hopefully in one of our beautiful holiday lets, which include bourgeois mansions giving onto the lively port.

You will love walking along the ramparts of this fortified town, or in the winding streets of the town centre, dropping down towards the port, or out to the fort, built by Vauban, along with all the fortifications making Saint-Martin a very recent addition to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.

In other words, Saint-Martin is a village with a real and sometimes violent history, where everything merits a place on a picture postcard. It’s also a lively centre where you can sip a coffee on the port in the morning to watch the fishing boats come in or wander round the “Ilot” – a mini island caught between the harbour and the marina.

Beside the ramparts you’ll meet donkeys dressed in trousers, on your way to the beach of Saint-Martin de Ré to enjoy a family afternoon beside the sea.


This village of 2300 inhabitants, located on the south coast of the Ile de Re, includes the small hamlets of « Le Morinand » and « Rouland » in the direction of Saint-Martin. Le Bois Plage boasts several kilometres of beautiful sandy beaches behind its large dunes.

Just as its name indicates, the village stretches along the coastline with over 6km of fine sandy beaches. Protected by its dunes, this is one of the island’s oldest holiday resorts, a well kept village of very old houses, complete with tiny courtyards and flower filled gardens.

Sailing, bathing, windsurfing, surfing, riding, tennis, cycling, fishing… you’d be hard put to run out of ideas for activities in Bois-Plage.

The holiday homes you can let on the Bon Séjour en France – Ile de Ré website are scattered around the centre of the village which is lively in the summer with its vast and colourful market, and out towards Saint-Martin, in the Morinand area, with its more rural atmosphere.

Again, as its name indicates, Bois-Plage is also home to woods and forests where pine trees and green oaks shelter cycle paths which take you swiftly to Saint-Martin and La Couarde.

La Couarde

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 !

Ars en Ré

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.


Loix is one of the smallest village of the Ile de Re. Loix has kept its authentic charm and is an excellent base for walking or cycling in the salt marshes, exploring the Pointe du Grouin or being captivated by the birds living in this unspoilt reserve.

Saint Clément des Baleines

Saint-Clément des Baleines is located near the tip of the island, between Ars and Les Portes. Because it is often forgotten by tourists, the village has fortunately kept its outstanding original character. La Conche beach, which spreads from the Phare des Baleines to Les Portes is amazing.

Les Portes en Ré

Last village at the tip of the island, it benefits from many of the most beautiful beaches and has become an undeniable spot of very high standard and selective tourism due to the expensiveness of its properties.