Sunday, March 4, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France, a day in Saint Martin, Ile de Ré with Fiona Valpy

#LazySundayinFrance Fiona Valpy St Martin Ile de Ré French Village Diaries Sea of Memories
Sea of Memories by Fiona Valpy

Welcome to my new #LazySundayinFrance feature. Today I am delighted to be joined by author Fiona Valpy, who is taking us to the lovely Ile de Ré, the perfect location for a lazy Sunday. It is also the setting of her new novel Sea of Memories, a beautiful book that is on my must read list this year. You can read my review here.

A day in Saint Martin on the Ile de Ré with Fiona Valpy

#LazySundayinFrance Fiona Valpy St Martin Ile de Ré French Village Diaries
Ile de Ré ©fionavalpy

My perfect day would start by waking up in one of the elegant pastel-decorated rooms in the Hotel de Toiras, which is right on the quayside in Saint Martin, throwing open the window to let the light flood in and to look out onto the boats moored in the harbour.

#LazySundayinFrance Fiona Valpy St Martin Ile de Ré French Village Diaries
St Martin, Ile de Ré ©fionavalpy

Next would come a wander along the quay to select the perfect café for a croissant and café-au-laît: one where the sun was already bathing the tables in warmth, from where you can watch the covered market opening and the shop owners setting out their wares. A browse – well, it would be rude not to – and a little shopping is a must. Who could resist indulging in the chic summer clothes on offer and the bars of soap made from creamy laît d’anesse (asses’ milk), or maybe buying a souvenir to take back from one of the galleries or homeware shops.

#LazySundayinFrance Fiona Valpy St Martin Ile de Ré French Village Diaries
Ile de Ré ©fionavalpy

Depending on the tide, I would take a trip in a sailing boat to see the island from a different perspective and blow away the cobwebs with some sea air. Boat trips depart from the harbour, sailing out between the high stone walls, past the lighthouse which marks the entrance to Saint Martin, and heading westwards towards the lagoon of the Ars de Ré.

#LazySundayinFrance Fiona Valpy St Martin Ile de Ré French Village Diaries
Ile de Ré ©fionavalpy

Delicious provisions for the best picnic lunch can be bought in the covered market at the far end of the quay. Cooked seafood, fresh breads and pastries, tasty charcuterie and ripe tomatoes and peaches, in season, can be tucked into a basket or backpack. Then it’s a gentle walk following the harbour walls, past the forbidding stone façade of the citadel, and on to the stretch of sandy beach that flanks the east side of the town. I’d spread out a blanket there and eat my picnic, resting in the sunshine.

#LazySundayinFrance Fiona Valpy St Martin Ile de Ré French Village Diaries
Ile de Ré ©fionavalpy

Back on the quayside after lunch, I’d indulge in one of the best ice-creams in the world from La Martinière – caramel au beurre salé would be my choice from the mouth-watering array of flavours on offer – and eat it sitting on a bench watching the world go by. Then, in order to work up an appetite for the evening, I’d hire a bike and cycle along some of the island’s many cycle tracks, which meander through wildflowers, vines and pine woods, to find a local market, perhaps in Sainte Marie or the pretty village of Ars-en-Ré. There, I’d buy little tubs of fleur de sel, the fine salt crystals for which the Ile de Ré is famous, and a jar or two of caramel au beurre salé, to take a taste of the island home with me.


#LazySundayinFrance Fiona Valpy St Martin Ile de Ré French Village Diaries
Ile de Ré ©fionavalpy

Dropping the bike back at the hire shop in Saint Martin, I’d wander back down to the harbour through the streets of little white houses decorated with the colourful spires of hollyhocks that grow everywhere on the island. Settling down at another quayside café, I’d order a glass of chilled Sancerre and sip it as I watched the sun beginning to go down, the light shifting on the water. As the lights come on in the restaurants, I’d order some fresh, local seafood – moules marinières, or perhaps a plate of oysters – and linger over it, enjoying the bustle of night life in the little port. The perfect end to a perfect day.

Lazy Sunday in France for French Village Diaries ©fionavalpy2018
Fiona Valpy website, Twitter and Facebook


This post has been linked to #AllAboutFrance over on the Lou Messugo blog. Click here to read more.



Lou Messugo


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