Île de Ré may be small, but it packs in some fine beaches. While flour-soft golden sand cushions much of the coastline, the southern stretches are busier and often crowded, especially in the summer. To escape the hordes, head west to find wild, remote swathes and hidden gems. Here are the seven of the best Île de Ré beaches.
Best for lazy book days: Les Grenettes
Les Grenettes is a long, wide crescent of pine-backed beach, near the sleepy village of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré. While there’s impressive swell for bodyboarding or surfing, there’s even finer sand for kicking back on, good book in hand. Relax on this lesser-trodden stretch with idyllic views over Île d’Oléron, before cycling into the village for an ice cream.
Best for families: Plage des Gollandières
For a good all-rounder, try Plage des Gollandières at Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré – a lively little town on the south coast. Head first to the indoor food market to pick up supplies for a picnic, then stretch out on the golden sand, sheltered by pine forest and dunes. This is one of the best Île de Ré beaches for families, with plenty of water activities keep younger visitors busy, from sailing to windsurfing.
Best for sunsets: Plage de la Conche des Baleines
To the southwest of the island, Plage de la Conche des Baleines is a beautiful half-moon of Champagne-coloured sand – the location of 1962 epic war film The Longest Day. The scent of pine drifts in from the nearby woods – perfect for a shady picnic (fill your bike basket with market fare from Ars-en-Ré). The luminescent Atlantic light is Instagram gold – particularly at sunset. Climb the 257-step spiral staircase of Le Phare des Baleines lighthouse for sweeping views across the Isle de Ré.
Best for off-grid relaxation: Plage du Trousse Chemise
Curving around the tip of the fishhook on the northwest coast, Plage du Trousse Chemise is one of the most under-the-radar Île de Ré beaches. It’s wild and untamed, sheltered by grassy dunes – just without the crowds of its southern siblings. While away the day fishing, sailing, kitesurfing or strolling the Banc du Bûcheron at low tide.
Best for watersports: Plage de Gros Jonc
Plage de Gros Jonc is one of the best beaches in Île de Ré for watersports. Two sailing centres offer lessons and rentals, not only for boat-related activities but also stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. It’s also a great surfing destination, with gear rental and lessons for those who want to make the most of the strong offshore winds.
Best for after-hours buzz: La Pergola
Hugging the shores of La-Couarde-sur-Mer, La Pergola is one of the buzzier Île de Ré beaches. It transforms from a chilled daytime hangout to vibrant after-hours spot. Spend long, leisurely days swimming in the clear sea and sun-baking on the bleached sands. Later, linger until the sun goes down, when a young crowd gathers in the local bars and eponymous nightclub.
Best for walking: Plage de la Patache
To the south of Les Portes-en-Ré is Plage de la Patache, one of the best beaches in Île de Ré for hiking. While perhaps not the finest swimming or lounging spot, it’s perfect for ocean-view walks with tantalising glimpses of the monochrome steeple above Ars-en-Ré. Afterwards, refuel on freshly shucked oysters at La Cabane de la Patache.