Independent Families: 'Is the Ile de Ré toddler-friendly?'


Q. We are looking to book a holiday with our two year-old in June or July and thought about going to the Ile de Ré. We'd like somewhere that's family friendly and be able to holiday without using the car. Could you recommend a holiday village with a heated pool and a toddler club that's close to a safe, sandy beach? We'd like to be near restaurants and shops if possible.
T Dixon, via email



A. The Ile de Ré is a wonderful choice for a family holiday. This Atlantic island, off the west coast of France, has been connected to the mainland by a slender road bridge for 20 years yet is still a tranquil haven: a flat, fragrant, family friendly holiday spot. Just 30km long and 5km wide, it's criss-crossed by an extensive network (100km) of cycle paths which wind through fields full of poppies, pine forests, pretty French villages, past fishing harbours, salt pans and oyster farms. It's also celebrated for its endless sandy beaches backed by powdery dunes.

Somehow the island has managed to retain a certain innocence and feels like the France, or rather the "seaside" of yesteryear. It is the perfect place for running barefoot along the shore, playing hide and seek in the sand dunes, picking your way through rock pools and picnics on the sand. Strict building regulations have meant that even new properties have to stick to the low-slung whitewashed-with-green-shutters look. However, the chi-chi shops and waterfront restaurants of the fishing villages give it a very French maritime sophistication.

The Ile de Ré has long been the island of choice for holidaying Parisians. In the past few years, though, it has become a lot more accessible for Brits thanks to a crop of flights to nearby La Rochelle. You can fly on easyJet (0905 821 0905; www.easyjet.com) from Bristol and Gatwick, Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com) from Stansted, Flybe (0871 700 0000; www.flybe.com) from Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Southampton, and Jet2 (0871 226 1737; www.jet2.com) from Edinburgh and Leeds/Bradford.

Flights for the three of you departing Stansted 14 June and returning 28 June with Ryanair cost just over £225 at the time of writing. The same dates with Jet2 from Edinburgh come out at £255 while flights with easyJet from Bristol are £288.

From La Rochelle airport it's just a short taxi ride to the Ile de Ré after which you can cycle everywhere – there are rental shops all over the island.

St-Martin-de-Ré on the north coast is the island's capital. It is surrounded by ramparts built to ward off the English in the 17th century and is now an attractively crumbling little port.

The waterfront is lined with cafés and restaurants, while behind the dilapidated façades are chic interiors shops and expensive boutiques. The market hall is brimming with fresh produce and the perfect place to fill your bicycle baskets with picnic fare.

You can choose from a couple of luxurious places to stay in St Martin, including the Hôtel de Toiras (00 33 5 46 35 40 32; www.hotel-de-toiras.com), a member of Relais & Châteaux. Babysitting is available. But if you are set on a holiday village, see the island's website ( www.iledere.com).

There are six holiday villages, but two have no swimming pool. The best beaches, safe with shallow water, are on the south coast and, as such, the place that most suits your requirements is Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré with its smattering of shops, restaurants, market and endless beach.

Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré has two holiday villages: Le Village Océanique (00 33 5 46 09 23 22; www.village-oceanique.com) is an attractive cluster of bungalows and chalets surrounded by woodland. It has children's and adults' heated swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball, volleyball, petanque and bicycle rental.

A week in a chalet sleeping four from 14 June would cost €434 (£334). (For two weeks it is €868/ £668). Ré La Blanche (00 33 5 46 09 72 72) is 800m from the island's largest beach and has a heated pool.

However, none of the island's holiday villages offer toddlers' clubs. The children's clubs start at three-, four- or even six-years-old. Canvas Holidays (0870 192 1154; www.canvasholidays.co.uk) has toddlers' clubs at its sites but only at select locations: Ile de Ré is not one of them.

If you're willing to overlook this then a campsite might also be another option.

Two weeks at Canvas Holidays' Camping Interlude, which is a 20-minute walk from Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré and all its facilities and a five-minute walk to the beach would cost £402-450 for the three of you, accommodation only, in a two-bedroomed tent, for a fortnight starting on 14 June.

There are 48 campsites on the island, 14 of which have chalets, tent pitches and a swimming pool.

Les Grenettes (00 33 5 46 30 22 47; www.campinglesgrenettes.com) in Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré is set in pine woods behind the dunes just 200m from the beach and has a heated pool. Prices per week for a chalet in June are €355 (£273).

Also in Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré, close to the beach, is the three-star Les Varennes (00 33 5 46 09 15 43; www.les-varennes.com),which offers sailing, pony-trekking, tennis and cycle tracks as well as a swimming pool and chalets sleeping four for €313 (£241) for a week until 28 June.



Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or email crusoe@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links