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I've never been there in summer, hence my full satisfaction regarding beach. But my cousins told me Ile de Ré was kind of "awful" (in my sense, that is) in summer, especially in touristy places: le phare des baleines where it is nice to stroll around the shops when there are few persons. I imagine the crowd in summer, who want to buy those ice-creams, the whole Ile de Ré merchandising (postcards, "I love Ile de Ré" T-shirts...).
Especially the southern beaches are crowded in summer. Many camping sites are in the area, offering holidaymakers the beach, the pool, the beach activities, bicycle renting.
Unique Suggestions: Skip le phare des baleines (?)... :)
or go there in early morning, before hungry, thirsty tourists flock there after sunbathing in southern beaches.
Fun Alternatives: It doesn't please me to go to crowded places. My only recommendation is then to go there in low season. Yet, is it like visiting Venice in summer? I don't think so. Much less crowded.
Or probably, plan excursions in pinewood, salty marshes since everyone would flock in the beach, wineries.
Updated Jan 6, 2004
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: swimwear, hats
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: High SPF lotions
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: For camping, check, for instance Interludes website (accomodation tip) to know what they offer, what they don't !
Miscellaneous: Your bikes.. unless you plan to hire some on the island.
Written Mar 14, 2004
I knew it!
Ile de Re in low season must be more heavenly.
In November, I talked to my cousins in La Rochelle. They were just back from a week-end on Ile de Re. And yes, it pleased them. They talked about villages in Ars area. They talked about the isolation, they were pleased to be able to hear locals chatting while sitting in some bistrots.
You know, conversations about fishing, the catch of the day... those kind of stuffs. Something you would not often hear in summer, for places being packed with tourists. Like deserted villages, no tourists just locals.
For that, I think it would be something to experience .. laid back, intimist, serene. Lovely
Updated Mar 14, 2004
Be it for visiting the whole island or for some parts, bicycle is the most appropriate transportation means.
By bike, you can discover everyhting: the vineyards, the beach, the salty marshes, the alleys, moonuments, ruins.
Of course, there are enough cycling paths on the island to cycle along the beach. It is eventually a sport tip for the island. I read there are some 100 kms of cycling path.
Equipment: It's possible to rent a bike at La Pallice area, just before riding the bridge. Park your car, hire the bike and go. If you do that, I think you don't even have to pay the toll.
As for the bike, renting from there is recommended since even your pet won't be left alone. Bikes there are equipped with basket/ box for the pets. :)
Updated Mar 14, 2004