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This island just to the west of La Rochelle has been compared to Saint Tropez, the resort town on the French Riviera that is known for partying, celebrities and blatant displays of wealth. But the island is not nearly as packed or flagrant. A short drive from La Rochelle brings you to an arched causeway that leads from the mainland to the island. Once there, Île de Ré is easily and pleasantly navigable by bicycle. Search out a rental shop and join the island's residents and other tourists breezing along the more than 50 miles of bike paths.
Beach going is a popular activity, and there is plenty of opportunity for swimming, windsurfing, sailing and other water sports. Because of its location, though, the island is only warm during the summer. August is an especially popular month as virtually all of France goes on vacation and the population of the island swells. But the island can handle the strain, and there is still plenty of space for everybody. Île de Ré also boasts an impressive array of quality restaurants. Try going to the island's capital, St. Martin, and see what looks good to you.
To reach the island, take the N237 west from downtown La Rochelle (follow the signs pointing you in the right direction). This becomes the D735, which is the bridge that will take you to Île de Ré.