Ile de Ré is a French island located in the Atlantic Ocean near La Rochelle, in the Charente Maritime department - Poitou-Charentes region. English people often call it several ways: isle of Rhe, isle of Re, Rhe Island or even Re Island. Connected to the mainland with a 3km bridge, its area is about 85km².
Its architectural and historical heritage are to be discovered in the 10 typical towns of Ile de Ré offering diversified landscapes - sandy beaches, marina, woods, salt marsh - and charms.
Ile de Ré is a very typical isle where people usually travel by bike. Some of the towns offer wonderful monuments and sites to be discovered absolutely! The Lilleau de Niges National Reserve houses thousands of migratory birds.
The Maison du Fier displays scenery and natural richness expositions about Rhe island. The ecomuseum of Loix tells the story of ‘white gold’ – the salt – which used to be the main resource of the area as well as salt workers’ life and know-how. The isle’s oldest fort, called Fort de la Prée, was built in order to protect Ile de Ré from Englishmen. Nowadays, only the dungeon and the monument seafront remain.
Saint Martin en Ré fortifications had a defence purpose: they were used by militaries and were able to protect the whole isle population in case of attack. This site is an important monument for France heritage. In the same town, stare at the observatory bell tower located in a fortified church. The Phare des Baleines is a site not to be missed. Climbing the 257 stairs will allow you to admire the amazing view on the isle and ocean. In Ars en Ré, the famous bell tower has a particular but beautiful design. The bell tower is a square tower with a black and white arrow.
Other entertaining visits in Ile de Ré will enchant all your family, both children and adults. The best example is the ânes en culotte, which are one of the symbols of the isle. They are donkeys wearing sorts of trousers. Originally, the aim was to protect the animals from mosquitos. Nowadays, it is more a tourist attraction. You can also discover the maritime milieu. For instance, to know more about oyster, from the birth to the marketing, a visit in the oyster parks or an oyster-farming company will satisfy you.
Get to the island:
By car: Ile de Ré has been connected to the French mainland with a toll bridge since 1988.
By train: La Rochelle railway station leads to Nantes, Bordeaux and Paris (the latter is less than 3 hours from La Rochelle). By plane: La Rochelle-Ile de Ré airport flies to Bristol, London, Dublin, Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Edinburgh, Cork, Lyon and Nice.
By coach: regular route travel from La Rochelle railway station to Ile de Ré all year long.
Rhe Island is also the best place for fishermen as it is a real natural reserve with numerous fish locks. Then, a visit in the marsh is a must. 1,500ha, clay soil, bays… here are some of the characteristics of the isle which allow salt workers to dig the so-called white gold. The latter has been part of the most important resources of the isle for a long time. Another place, another scenery: the woods. Over 400ha offer walkers several ways to be admired by bike or by foot.
If you are more interested in museums and monuments, Ile de Ré is not outdone. Ernest Cognacq Museum, Magayant House, Platin House, the abbey built by Cistercian monks, vieux Sainte Marie, la Redoute are also worth a visit.
|Location||% of houses||% of second homes||Prices in 10/08 per sq m||Prices in 03/09 per sq m|
|Saint Clément les Baleines||97.4%||68.1%||4900||5200|
|Les Portes en Ré||97.5%||78%||5680||5800|
|Ars en Ré||95.3%||60.4%||4950||5200|
|Sainte Marie de Ré||97.8%||54.9%||5000||4900|
|La Couarde sur Mer||95.7%||69.4%||4600||5500|
|Saint Martin de Ré||73.5%||50.8%||5400||5700|
|Le Bois Plage en Ré||93.1%||53.7%||5800||5700|
This table clearly informs about the very few number of apartments in Ile de Ré. But this does not mean that a buy-to-let investment would not be interesting. On the contrary, having a look at the percentage of second homes, we can easily deduce that a let is really profitable: Ile de Ré is a touristy destination - 16,000 inhabitants during the year and over 160,000 tourists in summer. This is the ideal location to rent a house!
As regards property prices, some towns resisted the real estate crisis as prices there increased. Some examples: Saint Clément les Baleines, les Portes en Ré, Ars en Ré, La Flotte, la Couarde sur Mer and Saint Martin en Ré. This may be explained by the fact that people buying in the isle have an unlimited budget. In other towns such as Loix, Sainte Marie de Ré, Rivedoux plage and le Bois Plage en Ré, prices slightly decreased.
The cheapest town is by far Rivedoux plage and the most expensive is les Portes en Ré.
To get updated info about the property prices in the Charente Maritime departement, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Street markets: to the up-most delight of tourists, many street markets are organised in the 10 towns of the isle. There, you can find typical produce like fleur de sel (French sea salt), which is by the way used to make toffee. Charm, direct contact with the produces and conviviality are the characteristics of these market towns.
Wine and alcoholic drinks: Pineau is a Charente Maritime alcohol created 400 years ago. It is the result of a mistake from a wine-grower who poured must in a Cognac barrel. In the isle, Pineau is produced in cool and dark oak barrels. It is served during the French aperitif and may be white or rosé. Cognac, internationally renowned is also produces in Ile de Ré. It matures slowly in oak barrels. It is a great liqueur also used to cook the best gourmet food of France. Cognac and Pineau production explains partially why holiday destination is so touristy, giving it great rental opportunities.
Gourmet food: fleur de sel is the typical ingredient of Ile de Ré. It is used both for cooking and for body care. Some particular produce such as fleur de sel toffee and chocolate and Pineau toffee will satisfy anyone’s palate. Oyster may be eaten in oyster farms; you will not taste fresher oysters than this! The isle is also renowned for its potatoes.
Climate and weather: it is quite mild thanks to its location and to the hot marine current coming from the Gulf Stream. It is almost as sunny as south-west of France or Corsica. In summer, heat is lessened by the sea closeness. However, rain is frequent in winter and autumn due to the nonexistent relief. In winter, temperature is quite mild and snowfalls are rare. Blowy, Ile de Ré offers numerous places to practise water sports such as surfing and windsurfing board.
Tourism – Rental opportunities: Ile de Ré being a touristy destination, it represent and excellent rental market for investors. Thus, buying a property there should be a good return on investment. This trendy holiday resort attracts more and more visitors and your investment should become fast profitable. Furthermore, as exposed previously, more than 50% of the properties are second homes and only few people live there all year long. Ile de Ré is the ideal place for a very profitable buy-to-let.
Buyers looking for a property in Ile de Ré are interested in old stone houses, large 18th and 19th centuries properties and luxury and modern villas. In Saint Martin de Ré and La Flotte, you may find some maison de maitre. In Le Bois Plage en Ré, you will find farmhouses with outbuildings.
Rétaise houses: as their name suggest, these properties are a typical style from Ile de Ré. White is the predominant colour both inside and outside the house. Thus, façade wall is often painted (in white) but you may also find exposed stone properties. Shutters are most of the time green which give a charm to these modern or renovated houses. Inside, beams are often exposed either painted in white or not and there is often a chimney. Outside, a courtyard to park one or more cars. Rétaise houses usually hold only one storey.
Villas: they are luxury and modern houses with larges rooms, terrace and swimming-pool surrounded with a garden/land. The front façade is painted in white and shutters have a green colour. As Rétaise houses, they have seldom more than one floor.
Fishermen’s houses: small property with a terrace and a garret, usually near the coast. White painted walls and green shutters. Some may need to be renovated. They have outbuildings, courtyard, garden, chimney.
Wine warehouses: originally, wine warehouses were used as a wine cellar. Nowadays, some of them were converted in habitable properties. Often however, they need renovation. The price is quite low considering the property prices in Ile de Ré.
Click here for more info about the Poitou-Charentes Architecture.
Rivedoux Plage: it offers sandy beaches, large bay and small dunes. But it is also pine clumps, white houses decorated with flowers. This is the nearest village of the French mainland where regional oyster-farming was born during the 20th century. Houses are not tall with white walls and green shutters.
La Flotte: there, you can admire small cliffs and beautiful properties along the quays. Gaze at the medieval street market, visit the Platin House, hang out in the back-alleys and taste the isle’s famous Pineau. This is also the place where were built the Chateliers Abbey during the 12th century.
Saint Martin de Ré: this is the capital of the isle surrounded with a star-shaped citadel. It was built in 1625 so as to defend the isle against Englishmen. Small cliffs, harbour, dynamic town centre, fishers and yatches are the main characteristics of the town.
La Couarde sur Mer: in the heart of Ile de Ré, this small family town is enchanting with its coasts, dunes, pines, sandy beaches and pebbles. During the summer, music stands give more charm to the village. It is a strategic location if you want to discover the isle by bike or by foot since located in the core of all cycle lanes.
Loix: this is an authentic charming town with marsh bays and small pebble beaches. You can visit the ecomuseum, hang out in the cycle lanes, discover the salt workers’ job, play petanque, admire birds, have a look to the tide mill and stop in the salterns.
Ars en Ré: it is a large bay surrounded with marsh, one of the most beautiful towns of France. This is the first marina in the isle offering beautiful beaches and coasts. There, wine is produced as well as oysters and salt. Its church is an inevitable step: the black and white bell tower is one of the symbols of Ile de Ré. It originally was a fixed point for maritime navigation.
Les Portes en Ré: this is the last step in the north of the isle. It offers sandy beaches and large dunes. This is the favourite location for artists and people looking for tranquility. This typical town holds a panoply of wells to be discovered while taking a walk. In the area, you can also admire the birds in the Trousse-Chemise wood.
Saint Clément des Baleines: as its name suggest, numerous cetacean used to be beached in its beaches. Nowadays, this is the paradise for fishing lovers who can gather seafood. La Conche beach is one of the most beautiful towns of Ile de Ré. The famous phare Des Baleines, built in 1853, allow an amazing view. There, you can also practice any sort of sport or activity.
Sainte Marie de Ré: sandy beaches, dunes, cliffs, here are just some of the landscapes you can see from this town. It is the most important agricultural town in the isle where oyster-farming and fishing are still the main economic resource. It is easily recognizable thanks to its 14th century Gothic bell tower.
Le Bois Plage en Ré: large sandy beaches, large and white dunes… this is the perfect place to practise sports and hobbies in the seafront. The town is surrounded with vineyards and woods. It holds Prehistoric and Gallo-Roman vestiges. Trade is thriving thanks to cereals, wine, fruit and vegetables. There, the last windmill having still sails may be admired.
|Take a closer look at the Charente Maritime property market:|
|Ile d'Oleron Property Information||Jonzac Property Information|
|La Rochelle Property Information||Pons Property Information|
|Saintes Property Information|