Tag Archives: La Rochelle
November 18, 2011

Ile De Re- Welcome to the island of ‘No Tomorrow’

 

 

 

 

Continuing my 2012 Bucket List ideas, I present to you a 2 part series on the idyllic and stunning French Island of  ‘Ile De Re’  Welcome to the island of no tomorrow…..

 

 

I like to think of ‘Ile De Re’ as the island of ‘no tomorrow’. 

 

Ile De Re- Welcome to the Island of No Tomorrow…

 

This was the perfect island to lose track of time.

You happily live in the moment in this island and escape all the worries, stresses of your everyday life.

 

Plus there was no chance of finding a pub to watch my beloved Liverpool FC.

No distractions. Absolutely.

 

Given its popularity, the ‘white island’ is best visited in Autumn or Spring (avoid the summer invasion of rich Parisians and Brits ) The island is accessible to budget tourists: situated just half an hour from the charming port town of La Rochelle which is served well by budget airlines like Jet2.com and Flybe.com

 

I visited in September when there when there were lots of wrinkly pensioners and families soaking in the pleasant late summer sun.

 

Given that it just 30 kilometres long and 5 kms wide, this island is perfect to explore by bicycle with over 100 kms of cycle tracks.

Which is a bummer since I am not much of a keen cyclist.

I am working on rectifying this.

 

I love walking around places.

Ile de Re- These streets were made for walking and cycling

 

Ile De Re’s streets were made for walking.

 

Ok close your eyes. Let’s visualise. Don’t look at the pictures.

 

Think….

Long winding streets lined by charming whitewashed cottages.

 

The winding dreamy streets of Ile De Re

 

 

Picture postcard blue shutters and green doors.

 

Streets of Ile De Re

 

 

Baskets of flowers handing from each house.

Beautiful wrought iron balconies.

 

Black Cat of Ile De Re

 

Ok think of maybe the even odd black cat lazing on the window sill.

Nice eh?

 

To get around the island I recommend you hire a car if you don’t fancy cycling around.

 

One of my first port of calls during my stay was the charming port town of Saint Martin.

 

Donkeys of Ile De Re

 

 

You know you’ve arrived at Saint Martin when you see just outside the port’s ancient fortifications where you’ll see the woolly and very cuddly ‘donkeys in pants ‘ who are the island’s lucky charm and symbol.

Since the 19th century the donkey has been a very useful citizen to the inhabitants of the Ile De Re . They were used for the collection of seaweed on the coast, salt marshes or in agricultural work.

The tradition of wearing gingham pants dates back to when the animals in the fields were given protection from the mosquitoes who favoured their succulent limbs.

 

 

This port town of  Saint Martin is a bustling harbour with some very nice open air terrace cafes-perfect to relax, soak in the sun and have a biere while the ladies can keep themselves entertained at the clutch of charming fashion boutiques

 

If you like the idea of creamy and salty flavours… in your ice-cream…

 

Then test your adventurous tastebuds by trying the oyster and caviar icecream at the stylish La Martinere Ice-Cream parlour.

 

They sell over 50 flavours of ice cream and sorbet, with flavours ranging from the pedestrian to the downright bizarre.

 

If you are beginning to feel about the lack of exercise at this point, then I recommend a climb up the 12th century local church of St Martin.

 

Occupied and fought over by both Catholics and Protestants, this church has a colourful history and bears the scars of its brutal past.

 

View from the top: Saint Martin Church, Ile De Re

 

Once you get to the top you get some mesmerizing panoramic views of the Breton Strait and the town itself.

Beautiful no?

 

 

In the second instalment of the Ile De Re diaries, I’ll take you to the lighthouse of all lighthouses , a tip on where to eat the best mussels possibly in France plus where to stay on this beautiful island on a budget without sacrificing on style and character.

If you missed, here is my earlier installment of getting lost in the streets of La Rochelle and also falling in love with the red colours of La Rochelle

Merci beaucoup!

…..to  Sandrine from Poitou Charentes Tourism Board  for hosting me and also Sue Lowry + Magellan PR team for organising this epic trip.  Plus this trip would not have been so epic without the company of  the amazing travel bloggers:  Melvin, Astrid and Titus from Traveldudes, Isabelle from IsabellesTravel and Iain Mallory from MalloryonTravel

Thanks for the memories!

 

Disclaimer:  Please note that this trip was sponsored by Poitou Charentes Tourism Board but the views represented here are my own.

 

 

 

 

October 6, 2011

Red is the color: Falling in love with La Rochelle

‘The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love.’

 

Color Psychology via Infoplease.com

 

Red is the Colour: The French Flag and the Lighthouse of Ile De Re

 

One of the joys of travel for me nowadays is exploring new local cuisines and expanding my culinary horizons

Plus expanding my waistline too :)

 

My recent trip to La Rochelle was such a gastronomic extravaganza.

Every meal here is a celebration.

A celebration of food, of local identity and of life.

 

Visiting La Rochelle was a sensory explosion.

Not just taste :  on the first day of  the trip first that hit me while wondering the streets was the smell of food here and the colours….

 

Red is the colour: Strawberries from the local market, La Rochelle.

 

 

The smell, colour and variety of local food is vibrantly on display in the local market square within La Rochelle.

The moment I walked in the first thing that captured my eye was the juicy RED colour of the strawberries.

Even though we had a hearty breakfast at our gites I just couldn’t resist picking up a punnet of the strawberries and I kid you not- was the sweetest and juiciest strawberries I had ever tasted.

2 punnets for just 3 euros- bargain! Who says you can’t enjoy luxury on a budget….

 

A great spot for lunch just a few footsteps from the market is the fantastique La Cuisine de Jules ( Rue de Thiers)

Seafood dominates the menu. Other specialities that Jules offer include his special tartare ( enjoyed as starters, recommend)  veal kidneys and foie gras. Menu changes with every season and all products are locally sourced where possible.

 

As Jules says

“Le produit c’est comme une femme …si on ne le respecte pas il ne donne rien.”

( The product is like a woman. If we do not respect it does not work )

 

I enjoyed a delicious seafood risotto with squid, prawns, mussels, olives- delicious.

 

Red is the colour : Champagne and Pomegranate Cocktails at Cuisine de Jules

 

The apertif was excellent: a champagne and pomegranate cocktail. I see red again.

Please note here readers a pattern emerging: An almost elaborate a la Amelie Poulin style seduction going on here.

 

With Lunch Menu starting at 14 euros and excellent fixed priced menus available ( 3 courses for 30 euros) this place offers really top notch food for excellent value.

 

One of the highlights of the day was our sunset cruise on the catamaran- the Kapalouest.

One of the packages they offer on the cruise is a seafood platter.  ( 49 euros for sunset cruise, apertif and seafood platter)

However given the possibility of a rough ride, the seafood platter had to wait after in a local restaurant.

 

I am no seadog like Captain Haddock so the prospect of a rough ride was not very enticing.

 

However contrary to intial fears, was a smooth ride and I experienced possibly one of the most memorable sunsets in my life- was wow or as the locals would say ‘C’est Magnifique!!’

 

Fiery Red Sunset over the Atlantic, La Rochelle- C'est Magnifique!

 

 

I don’t believe in any travel experiences being a must see….however seeing sunset out at sea is unique and something you got to experience soon.

As the sun drowned in the horizon, the fiery red embers still glowering across the sky suddenly I felt this intense sense of happiness, of gratitude… a quickening pulse.

Perfect timing : the skipper of the Kapalouest then treated to us to the apertif of all apertifs- a taste of the local Pineau des Charentes.

 

 

Overshadowed by it’s more celebrated big brother Cognac, the Pineau is a bit of unknown gem.

I plumped for the Red Pineau.

Made from the unfermented juice of red grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the Red Pineau was quite refreshing ( served chilled) and fruity.

 

A nice warm buzz in my belly, we trooped off the catamaran towards seafood heaven.

Another apertif minute later, landed on my table the most amazing platter of seafood you could imagine….

 

Colour is Red: Fruits de Mer, La Rochelle

 

Fruits de Mer as it is called- or fruits of the sea, this had everything from Oysters,Mussels, Snails in Garlic Butter, Langoustines and a red crab in the middle. It was a treat- everything tasted so fresh and of the sea.

 

My belly full, heart content I headed back to my rooms at the Best Western in La Rochelle.

 

I close my eyes but still not ready to sleep. I remembered  all the wonderful things I had tasted and experienced. I felt my heart glowing. Pulse quickening, I saw the colour red again.

It was official. I was in love. I couldn’t wait to wake up and see La Rochelle again.

 

Where I stayed

Autumn/Winter is when you can get some amazing deals on hotels in La Rochelle compared to summer peak season rates.

I stayed in the elegant and very comfortable 3 star Best Western Hotel in La Rochelle ( Champlain France Angleterre) where searching via Booking.Com I found rates for November 2011 for double (room only) little as 79 euros.

Slightly more affordable and comfortable is the Hotel Kyriad in La Rochelle where in November 2011 I found double rooms for as little as 59 euros.

 

Over the next few weeks I will be presenting a series of feature of how to discover this beautiful region on a budget so stay tuned to the BudgetTraveller!

If you missed, here is my earlier installment of getting lost in the streets of La Rochelle.

 

Merci beaucoup! to  Sandrine from Poitou Charentes Tourism Board  for hosting me and also Sue Lowry + Magellan PR team for organising this epic trip.  Plus this trip would not have been so epic without the company of  the amazing travel bloggers:  Melvin, Astrid and Titus from Traveldudes, Isabelle from IsabellesTravel and Iain Mallory from MalloryonTravel 

Thanks for the memories and hope to ride with you soon!

Disclaimer:  Please note that this trip was sponsored by Poitou Charentes Tourism Board but the views represented here are my own.

 


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