A great big bridge (8€ toll) takes you from the mainland just north of La Rochelle onto the 35km Island of the Ile de Ré. It is a cycling heaven! The cycle paths are mostly tarmac and are separate from the highway. We thought Coulon was great for cycling but the Ile de Ré takes the prize.
We stayed for two nights at the northern end of the island and cycled between the main tourist attractions such as the Phare des Baleines lighthous and larger towns. 50km cycled in all. Much of the island is very low lying and is given to salt production, oyster beds and mussel farms. It was wonderful to cycle amongst it all!
A heavy downpour on the second night and that has been pretty much the first rain we’ve seen since leaving home! T got to play with the drone over the sea and some WWII emplacements.
We had a chuckle with a British couple in the aire – they asked how long we were travelling and when Selina said that we are planning on a year away they told us that they managed ten weeks once just after they retired and had nearly killed each other. We’ll have to watch out for the ten week itch!
We moved down the coast a little to Fouras, where we discovered that someone had taken away the parking meter for the aire de camping car, so we get a night for free! We walked 5 km along the coast and checked out the town. It turned out that Fouras holds an annual windsurfing race around fort Boyard and it was the following day, so that’s us sorted then!
The other thing that Fouras is known for is it’s shallow sandy bay. This means that there are oyster beds all over than place that are tended to at low tide and also a walkway to fort Enet 2km in the bay that is also only exposed at low tide.
T checked the tide table and determined that we needed to depart at 10AM the next day so it was wine and pasta for dins and a movie. At the anointed time the next day we cycled around the bay and set out with the oyster-men for the fort. Late September so the tourist population was thin. All the time we were walking to the fort and our main concern was making sure that there was someone further out to sea than us as we were not sure how long we would have to beat the tide. But we had them about spot on and we got to the fort and wandered around and looked across to Fort Boyard (yes, that fort Boyard)
There are various boat trips out to Boyard from Fouras and also from La Rochelle and other seaside towns in the area. But the boat trips are expensive at 30€ plus each and you can’t even get off and see the fort, so we could not quite justify it. Instead, from fort Enet, you can just about see the fort in the photos. It’s in private ownership, so there are no tours anyway.
And then a brisk walk back to the mainland and around the bay to Fouras beach and watched the preparations for the Fort Boyard Challenge. We didn’t get to see the main event but the warm-ups were pretty cool.