Of course you’re all dying to know about my holidays! It’s a funny old thing as the one I want to tell you about – a jaunt to the super-swank, super-chic Ile de Re off the west coast of France – is one that you basically know about already.
I have never been somewhere abroad that was so comprehensively filled with English people. When I mentioned on Instagram that’s where I was going on holiday, I had multiple – MULTIPLE – messages saying “see you there!” As I walked down a charming cobbled street to the marina one morning a cheery call of “Esther!” come through the wrought-iron gates of a hotel. “Hello!” I waved back. We walked with our children to the tabac in order to buy them toys and snacks. It was genial.
So what can I tell you, my fellow Ile de Re-ites, about this island? Nothing! But I can tell you about the particular place we stayed, called Villa Clarisse. They very kindly put us up for 3 nights, which included a family room (one Superking for us and the kids on a perfectly okay camp bed in the next room) and breakfast every day.
Less of a hotel and more like a very upmarket B&B, Villa Clarisse is down a small street from the main port/town on this island, called St Martin-de-Re. We flew to La Rochelle with EasyJet and then VC organised a taxi for us from the airport to the island, over a long sea bridge.
Scuse me for the quick subject change but mainly the shopping here is fucking epic. Don’t ask me what any of the shops were called because I was too drunk and stressed out by having spent the entire summer with my family to have written stuff like that down.
But even in the tiny crapola tourist clip-joint shops on the marina the clothes were fantastic – lovely blouses and sunhat and floppy trousers and ditsy floral mid-skirts UUHNNNN. Next time I go I’m going at the start of the summer holidays with one of those checked laundry bags and I will fill. It. To. Bursting.
Here are some pictures of Villa Clarisse:
Alas I didn’t manage to take any photos of our room before we comprehensively trashed it, but it was a good room – lovely high ceilings, nice big bathroom, AC but also windows that actually open. I can confidently recommend the whole thing to you.
The breakfast was also delicious – and they serve tea and cake on request at around 4pm on the lawn by the pool. Properly proper.
Now, the caveats. St Martin-de-Re doesn’t have the best beaches – you can reach the good beaches from here, but you have to cycle. This is all fine if you have very small kids who can go in one of those kiddie-boxes on the back of a bike, or if they can confidently cycle on their own or if you have no kids at all.
If your kids are like mine – too big to go in a box but not good enough on a bike to go on a cycle path, this place is not for you. Unless you’re not interested in beaches in which case what are you doing here?
I would also say that the time we went. August Bank Holiday, was probably the worst time to go ever. It was packed it was heaving. Not just with genial Sloanes but also with day-trippers from Paris, which is only 2hrs away on the TGV. So if you’re planning a trip do not go then.
It’s also not cheap – it’s basically London prices for pretty much everything. This is good in a way – its accessible location and the beauty of the beaches is such that if everything didn’t cost a bomb it would be overrun and trashed, as comprehensively as our hotel room, within 2 seasons.
But then you have probably all been many times and know all this already!
What else do you know about Ile de Re that I don’t?? Good hotels right on the best beaches for non-cyclists? Specialist Ile de Re villa rental companies?
Please leave comment in the handy box below. I’m also happy to answer any specific questions about Villa Clarisse. Go, go, my friends; go, go, go.