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This tiny Atlantic island off the coast of western France is known for its chic vibe and A-list visitors, but it still remains blissfully unspoilt.
It may be connected to the mainland city of La Rochelle by bridge, but Île de Ré feels a world away from the hustle and bustle. Spanning just 30 km and only 5 km wide at its broadest point, it is covered with salt marshes where herons can often be spotted soaring overhead and fringed by wave-washed beaches backed by sweeping dunes. Its string of small villages is linked by cycle paths and bikes are the preferred way to get around.
Each village has its own character – Saint Martin is the largest, with a boutique-lined port, while little Ars-en-Ré is the sleepiest – but all are scattered with quaint, whitewashed buildings sporting green shutters and terracotta roofs. The island’s beauty isn’t the only appeal, though, and food is another major draw: there are chi-chi restaurants and colourful markets aplenty, and the oysters here are said to be some of the best in world.