The heat has driven us to the coast in the hope of a sea breeze. Our aim is Ile de Re, a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the Southwest coast. Time appears to be on speed dial again – our first month well is under way.
Farmers are taking advantage of the heat to harvest their summer grain, harvestors in full swing. Alternative fields of golden stubble, corn and sunflowers pave our way. We’re in melon country too, if the road side stalls are a guide. Stopping proves a good choice, fresh from the fields the melon is intensely perfumed and sweet. And there’s a fabulous ruin to photograph, just randomly sitting in a field.
Ile de Re is linked to the mainland by an elegant arched bridge and we sail across, into it seems, a seaside hot spot, teaming with locals on holiday. And there we were, thinking it would be a quiet getaway, with our two tiny villages of note.
It’s immediately different to the mainland. Even though we’re around 400 km from the Spanish border, its influence in the local architecture is immediately apparent. Houses are rendered in white, shuttered in pale greens and blues, but it’s the roofing, rounded varigated terracotta tiles that set the Spanish tone. Hollyhocks keep the French link going, lining the narrow streets. It’s very pretty lit up by the sun, the ocean a sparkling sapphire backdrop.
As is often the case in small, busy places, parking is a challenge, but it’s not too long before we’re settled, just in time for a quick bike ride in and lunch. Our two villages of note are but two of many that dot the island. Lunch is harbourside, a local feast – seafood and island rose. Even in this small outcrop of land there’s a vibrant wine culture.
Good choices abound today – the coast is a good 6 degrees cooler than the mainland. Perfect, in fact, to get the bathers out and brave the ocean.
It’s here we spend the late afternoon, alternatively swimming, reading, walking and altogether slowing the pace of life right down. There’s time enough for exploring tomorrow.