Ile de Ré, Charente-Maritime, France

Ile de Re is one of those almost idyllic places that you really ought to visit if you get chance, and once you’ve been there, it’ll stay with you. It’s reached from the mainland by boat or by a 3km toll bridge from La Rochelle, and is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, salt marshes, vineyards and quintessentially French villages, which explains why so many Parisians have a second home here. It’s not a big island by any means – it takes about 40 minutes to drive from one end of the island to the other, but the beauty of it is that it doesn’t seem to feel crowded.
So, what’s to do there? It’s great for walking, cycling, birdwatching, and just watching the world go by in one of the picturesque harbours. Foodies particularly like the fact that you can sit at one of the beach cafes and dine on seafood fresh from the sea. A must see is the Lighthouse of the Whales, one of the highest lighthouses in France; climb all 257 steps to the top for the most incredible views.