Ile de Ré, France: Travel tips, tales and more…
Yao Yao’s Travel Tips for Ile de Ré
- Bring books and other things to play with that you can do on your own or with your brother or sister. I like to read, so when my mom and dad are having a really
l-o-o-o-o-ng dinner, I can pull out a book or sketch pad and not get bored. We like to read by the pool or on the beach after we swim. If your parents are reading (or sleeping) it can get kind of boring so make sure you have something to do.
- Bring shoes you like to ride bikes in. I rode in my Crocs or sneakers. I don’t like to ride in flip-flops.
- Bring more than one swimsuit. I don’t like getting back into a wet swimsuit and sometimes we swim more than once in a day.
- Try the different foods. I don’t like tapenade at home but for some reason it was really good on Ile de Ré. I still don’t like oysters or some of the really smelly cheeses, but I was surprised at some of the things I actually liked. Try the yogurt that comes in the little glass bottles with fruit. I never like yogurt but this tasted like dessert. Just try it.
- Don’t get fooled into buying the really pretty cupcakes. They are nice to look at but they don’t taste very good. Buy the chocolates, pastries and ice cream.
- If you are staying in a room that has bunk beds, get the top bunk. The light is better for reading and no one sits on your bed.
- My mom has this weird thing about not eating Italian food in France, but try the pizza anyway. It was really good.
- If you are riding bikes with your parents, make sure to test out the bike seats first. Some of them are really hard and your bum will hurt at the end of the day. Test out your bike first and make sure it’s a good one.
- Make sure you get a basket with your bike. You will want it to carry all of your stuff.
Samantha’s Travel Tips for Ile de Ré
- On Ile de Ré, you see more straw fedoras than bicycle helmets. Due in part to the well-planned bike trails and the Retais’ complete respect for the cyclist, helmets are deemed unnecessary by locals. Just ride, okay?
- Most hotels don’t provide beach towels. Ask when you make your reservation. We brought inexpensive ones with us and left them on the island.
- The beaches do not have sun beds or umbrellas to rent. (This is not St. Tropez!) The weather gets hot, so you’ll either want to buy a little umbrella or make sure you have serious sun protection for you and your kids.
- Many of the boutique hotels don’t provide laundry service. Most towns do have a place that will do your laundry. You can typically drop off your clothes in the morning and pick them up in the late afternoon.
- Some restaurants provide English menus and some don’t. I love that fact that there aren’t huge tourist menus in four languages posted outside every restaurant. I have high school French and my husband speaks it a bit, but rarely did we feel unable to communicate our wants and needs. Bring a phrasebook and you’ll be fine. (The Retais are very helpful!)
- The weather can be unpredictable, especially in early summer. Make sure you have clothes you can layer. I find it easier to bring a travel umbrella, but you can buy large umbrellas in the market for about 10 euros.
- There is good medical care all over the island and the sizable town of La Rochelle is just across the bridge. But some things you just won’t find: For instance, we looked everywhere and couldn’t find a mouth guard for Yao Yao, who wears braces. (Her orthodontist recommended she wear one when riding a bike.) Bring all the medical “incidentals” you think you might need, just in case.
- Rent a car. There are very few taxis on the island and when it’s at all busy, you’ll have to wait hours to get one – and they’re expensive. Though we rode our bikes most of the time, we were happy to have a car when we went to dinner. We returned the rental the day before we left and took a taxi across to the La Rochelle train station – it’s a good idea to arrange for your getaway taxi days in advance, and confirm it the night before you leave.
- Many of the hotels on the island do not have air conditioning. We were very comfortable in June but I can imagine August being a challenge. We were told most hotels say there really is no need, just open a window. Everyone has different temperature tolerances so it’s just something to be aware of. By, the way, open the window and you will get mosquitos. Pick your poison!