We left Rochefort on Saturday morning and headed off to Ile de Ré arriving in time for lunch. The campsite is inside the St Martin de Ré city walls and only a short walk from the centre of the town as well as the pretty harbour. The island is renowned for it's oysters and we soon found this delightful seaside bar on one of our cycle rides along the coastal paths. The wind was quite strong the first time we visited and the waves were rocking this little boat moored just off the beach but just imagine sitting in that expanse of blue sea and sky sipping a glass of chilled Muscadet and enjoying the freshest possible oysters just harvested from the beds in front of you!
On Sunday morning we cycled to the next village along the coast with it's own small harbour and found the place alive with Sunday visitors browsing the street markets and sitting in the sun enjoying a glass of rose so we joined in and had a relaxing time before cycling back for lunch at the camp on our own patch. The camp was very pleasantly laid out in the strip between the ancient ramparts of the fortified town originally designed by Vauban over 400 years ago in the time of Louis XIV. We had a large plot and plenty of shade as well as a nice outlook over the trees screening us from the town which is a jumble of narrow cobbled lanes lined with orange pantiled white washed houses.
Our friends Cliff and Carolyn arrived on Monday and we spent 3 lovely days together exploring the island as well as the capital. St Martin itself has a lovely harbour filled with pleasure craft and fishing boats and with an island in the middle accessed by a bridge. It's lined with cafés and restaurants as well as lots of classy shops which Carolyn and I browsed together one morning.
They have a charming dog called Florrie, a cocker spaniel poodle crossbreed. She was very good natured and even sat still long enough for me to draw her one afternoon after we had enjoyed a long lazy lunch together at the camp.
I picked another bunch of wild flowers while we were walking Florrie one afternoon and finally got round to drawing them at our next stop at Parthenay. We had visited Ile de Ré before on our first outing in the camping car in March 2006 when it was cold and damp and hadn't really considered going back till our friends suggested meeting up there. I'm so glad we did because it's a lovely island, flat for easy cycling along the special paths, full of interest in the all little harbours dotted along the coast and blessed with a good climate and fantastic light.