The Ile de Ré is a small island located on the West coast of France and can be accessible through a bridge from La Rochelle. A ferry used to connect the island, but in 1988, the new bridge, the second longest in France (2926,5m) was inaugurated and transformed the whole island into a prime touristic destination.
The best way to discover the island is by bike. It is possible either to bike from La Rochelle or leave the car near the bridge. Once on the island, a myriad of bike paths leads to remote beaches, small villages, the main town – Saint Martin en Ré and for the most courageous to the lighthouse – the phare des baleines reachable after a 30km ride.
Early morning is when you want to start your little adventure. When pushing on the pedals to get through the bridge, if you have the chance to witness a light fog over the sea, you'll merge with the island and will wake up at the same rhythm as every small places you'll encounter, the village of Rivedoux welcoming you first.
Then, as if some magical hands ordered it, the fog disappears, life seems to be born again and the gentle speed of the bike reminds to take the time and enjoy the island. If you visit the island in June, you'll experience the full salt harvest season.
According to Esprit du Sel, the first marshes of the island of Re would have been created in the 12th and 13th century at the instigation of St. Michael Religious in Herm, then lords of Ars islands and Loix.
This industry encountered great challenges as salt lost with modern societies its food conservation primary usage, therefore its tax power. But for the last 30 years, a new approach has been developed presenting this cooking ingredient as a highly crafted product, totally organic and produced with love. The process is directly linked with nature, harvest season depend on temperature, sun and totally hand produced with small tractors and men and women piling up salt with big shovels.
Finally, it can be a great idea to stop and replenish energy, I had the immense pleasure to discover La Cabane du Fier standing as a gem in the narrow piece of land just before arriving at Are en Ré.
The reunion with a long time and very dear friend made the journey unforgettable.