Ile de Re Private Tour
La Rochelle, France
- Exclusive experience: With just five to seven people in your group, your private driver follows your schedule, not the other way around. (Because tours can be customized, any admission fees are paid on arrival.)
- Lighthouse: Gaze out at the vast Bay of Biscay from the second-oldest lighthouse in France. If you're up for it, climb the 257 steps to the top for truly spectacular views.
- Ars-en-Re: Relax in a cafe by gleaming yachts; stroll flowered lanes among whitewashed homes with green shutters and red-tile roofs; see monuments, windmills, and memorial dating back centuries.
- Saint-Martin-de-Re: Roam streets steeped in history, where an iconic citadel, complete with moats and drawbridges, was designed to hold the entire island population, including cattle.
About this La Rochelle tour
Not many places can say they're officially one of the most beautiful villages in France, but Ile de Re has one that can. Plus a number of runners-up that will leave you wondering how they missed the cut.
It's the south coast harbor village of Ars-de-Re that earned the honor, and it's a good place to start your tour. Surrounded by salt marshes teeming with herons, gulls, swans, and sandpipers, centered around the tall, black and white clock tower of Saint Etienne Church, it's an unpretentious mix of Gallic heritage and international chic that's giving the snooty glitz of the Cote d'Azur a run for the money. With the added charm of involving less money.
On the other side of the island, Saint-Martin-de-Re faces the sea with a combination of inviting cobbled lanes and menacing 17th-century fortifications. Boaters and fishermen gather at the harbor to discuss all things nautical, while children scamper up the ramparts to exchange cannon fire with invading navies. You can spend your time at a famous chocolate shop, visit a 16th-century church, or ride a donkey. (More about that later.)
At the rocky northwest tip of the island, a 190-foot limestone column rises in stony silence from a granite base. It's the Phare des Baleines: the lighthouse of whales, named for the doomed behemoths that once stranded themselves here. Built in 1854, it still works, casting a beam seen 30 miles out. If the spirit moves you, feel free to climb the stairs that spiral dizzyingly upward inside: 257 steep steps. By the last of them, you'll have to catch your breath, only to have the view take it away again.
How does my ass look in these pajamas?
You've seen dogs dressed to the nines, and felines forced to wear frivolous frocks. But a donkey in pajamas? That's unusual even by Internet standards - except in Saint Martin de Re. In the days before machinery (and insect repellent), farmers protected their donkeys from mosquitoes by clothing them in loose pants that look like, well ... jammies. Today, the Anes en Culotte is a beloved tourist attraction, and the donkeys look no sleepier than normal.
La Palice Port. Please proceed pier side and look for our GoBe Representative with the displayed logo sign.
Shops are often closed on Sundays and Monday mornings. You will be travelling in a mini-van with 8 seats and driver/guide. The rear seats are less roomy. 5 people per vehicle is best for comfort.
Walking is at your own pace; the amount is at each person's discretion. Expect steps, inclines and cobblestones. You must be able to get in/out of the van without assistance or with help from a companion. Phare de la Baleine is not wheelchair accessible.
Scenic, Cultural, Shopping, Walking Tour, Private Tour
8-seat Vans, most comfortable with 5 occupants and a driver
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages but if you are under 18 years of age you won't be able to drink any alcohol on this tour. 18 is the legal drinking age in France.
Special Medical Restriction
We can accommodate you if your mobility is limited and you use a folding wheelchair with at least 7 days' advanced notice, providing you are not travelling solo and have someone along to assist you.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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