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Pic’n’ mix Ile de Ré

This month, in our ongoing short-break series, we turn to the very best experiences on this salty, cycle-friendly French island. Choose your favourites and build your perfect trip

Only west wide 19 and it miles may three be, east-tomiles but you could spend days cycling among Île de Ré’s beaches, salt pans, vineyards and smallholdings without retracing your tyretracks. Sparse and unspoilt, albeit with fashionable pockets, it’s a destination beloved of Parisians, who enjoy their Atlantic coast rusticity with a side order of chic. Until a bridge to the mainland was completed in 1988, the island was known as a day-trip destination with fine 17th-century fortifications and excellent oysters; now its towns and their beaches bustle from April to November. If tourism has taken off, development has not - in fact, a fun holiday challenge would be to spot anything - a lean-to, a view, even a donkey - that is not delightfully picturesque. Exploring by bike, and fitting in some surfing or horse-riding, are terrific groundwork for long lunches, picnics and sunset drinks.

Windswept dunes on the beach at Rivedoux-Plage
PHOTOGRAPHS: PHILIP LEE HARVEY/LONELY PLANET
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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - February 2019
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