Sunday, September 21, 2014
   
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The prettiest places in France...

JOHN TREW reveals some more colourful attractions of the French Atlantic Coast in Part II of his exploration of Charente-Maritime...

I FELL in love with the Ile de Ré at first sight - but only after I recovered from paying the hefty 16 euros summer tariff for our car to get across to this wonderful holiday island using the spectacular three-kilometre toll bridge from La Rochelle. This toll deters day-tripping motorists from adding further to the 10-fold rise in the island’s population from 25,000 to a quarter million in high-season. So, to enjoy Ré at its best, go in spring or autumn.

Our visit to Ré (pronounced the same as my middle name Rea, which may give me a subliminal affection for the place) was to be the climax of our early-summer trip; we had already spent a week sampling the finest amenities of the French Atlantic coastline from La Rochelle to Royan and back, as regular readers will know. In fact, there were so many highlights that that I did not have space in Part One to mention our great day being pampered and having lunch at THALAZUR ROYAN, one of the best sea-water spas we have ever encountered; it has an outdoor ocean vista to take away any breath you have left after a long, invigorating session in its thermal pools which have all kinds of powerful underwater jets.

My wife Karen swims regularly indoors throughout the year back home, so we really enjoy hotels with outdoor pools when we escape to warm, sunny climes. That’s one of the reasons why we chose LE CLOS ST-MARTIN, an outstanding luxury spa-hotel boasting TWO pools, located close to the buzzing quaysides of St-Martin-en-Ré, the island’s main town which is as pretty as a postcard whichever way you look. We also stayed at the highly-regarded HOTEL de la MAREE overlooking the port and beach at Rivedoux-Plage, which has a delightful family pool where we lay in the sun for the first time on the trip.

To read the rest of John Trew's feature on the colourful attractions of the French Atlantic Coast and see all the pictures, pick up a copy of Northern Ireland Travel News...

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