how to visit Ile de Ré without breaking the bank


Rue des Rentiers, in Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, is not far from Tristan and Manuela, which run a charming inn for small budgets.

Romual Eye

And if you follow in our footsteps for the time being to taste the salty and iodized pleasure of a territory just waiting to reveal its authenticity with its simple pleasures for all budgets?

Forget the car first. With its more than 110 kilometers of bike path, Ré can be visited by bike without a false note on an almost flat range. Prefers arrival by train in La Rochelle, then the bus from …

Rue des Rentiers, in Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, is not far from Tristan and Manuela, which run a charming inn for small budgets.


Rue des Rentiers, in Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, is not far from Tristan and Manuela, which run a charming inn for small budgets.

Romual Eye

And if you follow in our footsteps for the time being to taste the salty and iodized pleasure of a territory just waiting to reveal its authenticity with its simple pleasures for all budgets?

Forget the car first. With its more than 110 kilometers of bike path, Ré can be visited by bike without a false note on an almost flat range. Prefers arrival by train in La Rochelle, then line 3 bus, which is waiting for you on the apron (2.30 € per ride). As soon as you reach the highest point of the bridge, Ré takes shape in front of you between blue and green, the sea at your feet, the forest at the level of your eyes, where you will see a couple of bell towers spring up here and there. For your trips on the island, the free clean energy shuttle, the RespiRé network, operates everywhere in the area.

To break the neck of prejudice

A proof that housing is available even in high season, we have found a small budget resort in Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, in one of the oldest houses in the village, located at Le Chabot. You should know that Saint-Clément has the special thing about having five villages: le Chabot, le Gillieux, la Tricherie, le Godinand and le Griveau. The immersion in the land of Rêtes also begins with these subtleties of the territory. Get off at Salorge’s bus stop to take the free electric shuttle to your destination. Crisp details, rue des Rentiers welcomes you just before rue de la Forge, where you are expected.

The sea air tickles your nostrils from the open windows

And here you are welcomed by a young couple in what could look like a charming, clean inn. There are two choices for you, a beautiful homestay, Stars in the Eye, for 45 euros per night in summer or a crisp little house, the garden annex and its independent entrance for 75 euros per night. night on average during the summer season. Enough to dispel prejudice against these two Airbnbs at very low prices in the spirit of the original concept. The sea air tickles your nostrils from the open windows.

In Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, the triple room of Tristan and Manuela in a maisonette costs only 75 euros per night.


In Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, the triple room of Tristan and Manuela in a maisonette costs only 75 euros per night.

Romual Eye

Tristan de Pelseneer, Manuela Hirt and their “6 and a half year old” daughter, Merline, are your hosts for a free stay. “We do not impose a day of arrival or departure. By changing, no traffic jams to get in or leave the island, ”explains the mistress on the spot. Wise and flexible above all, just like the philosophy of the place. The charm works, the time to raise the “usefulness” of the decorative details you are at home. They have thought of everything to make you feel comfortable. And recreating the world with them, embarking on a jam with the instruments of the music room, going back to the old days through objects, furniture and decorations from the local life of their resource center, or even leaving the island calling you to discover its small treasures. The life and house of the hosts is rich in several parts. The good plan: free delivery of bicycles during your stay.

In the “Mag” of June 18, we told you about these tireless volunteers who were launched to the rescue of Moufette’s lock in Saint-Clément-des-Baleines. A lock is a centuries-old structure and a kind of dike made of thousands of stones that were used to catch fish at low tide. However, these locks, which suffer from repeated attacks from the sea, have mostly disappeared or are in danger. The one by Moufette, 875 meters long, is one of the last still standing, and the inhabitants of Ré are determined to preserve it. How about helping them close the holes at the foot of the Baleineaux lighthouse? Your mission: Collect the stones scattered by a mournful Poseidon and put them back on the low wall.

Repositioning of stones carried by the tide.  Amicale de Moufette needs hands to save the last big lock on the island.


Repositioning of stones carried by the tide. Amicale de Moufette needs hands to save the last big lock on the island.

Romuald Eye

Small animals and landscapes

Still around Saint-Clément there is another way to discover the coast at a lower price: safari at low tide! Led by an ornithologist with a passion for nature, Hervé Roques – also known as Indiana Jones of the foreshore – the workshop takes you on an encounter with the wild life that lives in the sand and cliffs when the sea retreats. “It is not fishing on foot, but discovery and awareness. We rummage through the puddles to discover all the little creatures hiding there. Crabs, shrimp, sea urchins, stars and sea anemones … ”, he explains. It is a matter of explaining their way of life, the interplay between predators and prey, and at the same time replacing the rocks to preserve the habitat of this small marine environment. A fun excursion that appeals to everyone and where everyone is active.

As the sea recedes, thousands of animals emerge.  Safari at low tide to discover aquatic fauna, led by Hervé Roques, at the foot of the Baleineaux lighthouse.


As the sea recedes, thousands of animals emerge. Safari at low tide to discover aquatic fauna, led by Hervé Roques, at the foot of the Baleineaux lighthouse.

J.-B. Dumond

For the more contemplative among us, there is a magical place just a few pedal strokes away, which invites you to daydream, and which is completely free. At the Pas de Maisonneuve in Ars-en-Ré, at the edge of a dike in silhouette against the dazzling blue or at sunset, you can admire the 19th-century customs hut at the edge of the water. A landscape that seems immortalized in a masterpiece.

Former customs hut at Pas de Maisonneuve, in Ars-en-Ré.


Former customs hut at Pas de Maisonneuve, in Ars-en-Ré.

Romuald Eye

Even a little further, more in the middle of the island, head to the Loix Salt Marsh Eco-Museum for a tour of this historic heritage in song! For just € 5.50 adult admission, embark on an enchanted journey right out of a book by Lewis Caroll. Cross the mirror by stepping into them by an Alice reincarnated as Clémentine Mallein. Her words sing to the rhythm of strange instruments, which she transports in her magical wheelbarrow to take visitors along the water cycle from the sea to the tiles of the salt workers pulling salt or picking its flower.

Song tour of the beach meadow's eco-museum in Loix.


Song tour of the beach meadow’s eco-museum in Loix.

Jocelyn Bargain

Let’s continue the journey to Saint-Martin-de-Ré. For only 14 euros per. adult and 8 euros for children, board “Fantomas II” for a sea trip outside the usual tourist circles. Captain Christophe Guerry, a former local fisherman, takes you to admire the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vauban before sailing towards Ilates, between the Vendée and the Ile de Ré.

Sea voyage on board


Sea trip aboard the “Fantomas II” for € 14 for adults and € 8 for children under 10.

Jocelyn Bargain

Place full of history

Finally, to end this tour on the Ile de Ré without breaking the bank, our favorite is: have a drink at the 4-star Hotel La Baronnie in Saint-Martin-de-Ré. Its bar, open to external customers from 4.30pm to 11pm, offers Dammann teas for 5 euros and cocktails for 14 euros. A few steps from the harbor awaits more than three hundred years of history behind the doors. Harmoniously renovated since 1996 and for twelve years by the owners, La Baronnie was listed in the Supplementary List of Historical Monuments in 2008.

In summer, the spa hotel La Baronnie in Saint-Martin-de-Ré opens its bar to everyone from 16:30.


In summer, the spa hotel La Baronnie in Saint-Martin-de-Ré opens its bar to everyone from 16:30.

Romuald Eye

This cool break is the guarantee of a suspended moment that already invites you to return to it. It is said that Claudine Alexandrine Guérin de Tencin, Baroness of Saint-Martin of the Isle of Ré (1682-1749), woman with letters and French salonnière, read books there in the salon. “Maybe just in the chair where you sit, who knows? Frightened Florence Pallardy, the mistress of the place, slips away and triggers with this simple evocation the imagination of the Parisian literary cafes of the Enlightenment. The sophistication of the 18th century is offered to your eyes without falling into splendor, the discreet elegance of the jewel being sufficient in itself.

In summer, the bar opens out to the estate’s park. Taste this bubble of lust in the tranquility of a large garden with the scent of Eden. A place to enjoy without moderation.

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