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For 15 years, my family and I have spent each summer on the French Atlantic coast. More specifically, Ile de Ré, a small island merely a bridge away from La Rochelle. Let’s have a look at our latest post in The Travel Diaries series…

The Travel Diaries: Île de Ré

A regular feature in summertime trendy hotspots, Ile de Ré distinguishes itself by its unique vibe and casual chic nature. Unlike other holiday beach destinations, this island isn’t about partying the night away in clubs, yachts, champagne and private beaches. On the contrary, its all about family, cycling/surfing, eating local seafood while wearing stripy sailor tops and near-empty wild beaches.

The Travel Diaries: Île de Ré

One of the main components of Ile de Ré’s charm is the uniformity of the island and the way it has been protected by the local authorities. There is no graffiti, no traffic lights, no advertising other than local events, regulated architecture and over 100 km of cycle paths. The island has not always lived from tourism though and continues to generate income from other activities, with the most notable being salt.

The Travel Diaries: Île de Ré

Rétais salt marshes produce a high quality regular salt, but also fleur de sel (flower of salt), which is the finest most delicate salt of all. The north of the island is filled with active salt marshes and when you cycle by you can see the pyramid-shaped piles of salt between the sections of the marsh. Local donkeys, baudets du Poitou used to work in the marshes and in order to protect their legs from the mosquitos and salt, they wore handcrafted trousers, which can still be seen during donkey rides in the island capital of St Martin.

The Travel Diaries: Île de Ré

Fishing and oyster farming are also a huge part of the islands life and the seafood there is truly unparalleled. It can take almost an hour to cross the entire island, depending on traffic, from the first village in the south to the Phare des Baleines (Whales Lighthouse) at the northern tip of the island. At the foot of this lighthouse, there is each year a jazz festival that brings together incredible performers such as Earth, Wind & Fire and Jimmy Cliff, who play for a handful of attendees by the Atlantic Ocean. The villages also each hold firework shows for Bastille Day and other occasions, as well as hosting nightly markets and bands, complete with dancing on the port.

The Travel Diaries: Île de Ré

I could wax lyrical about this small piece of land for hours and don’t think Id ever run out of things to say. There truly is something for everyone and now, you need to go and discover it for yourself.

The Travel Diaries: Île de Ré

Read more of our Travel Diaries on the La Fête Blog here.

For 15 years, my family and I have spent each summer on the French Atlantic coast. More specifically, Ile de Ré, a small island merely a bridge away from La Rochelle.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Experience The French Atlantic Coast

A regular feature in summertime trendy hotspots, Ile de Ré distinguishes itself by its unique vibe and casual chic nature. Unlike other holiday beach destinations, this island isn’t about partying the night away in clubs, yachts,champagne and private beaches. On the contrary, it’s all about family, cycling, surfing and eating local seafood while wearing stripy sailor tops on near-empty wild beaches.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Experience The French Atlantic Coast

One of the main components of Ile de Ré’s charm is the uniformity of the island and the way it has been protected by the local authorities. There is no graffiti, no traffic lights, no advertising other than local events, regulated architecture and over 100 km of cycle paths.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Experience The French Atlantic Coast

The island has not always lived from tourism though and continues to generate income from other activities, with the most notable being salt. Rétais salt marshes produce a high quality regular salt, but also ‘fleur de sel’ (flower of salt), which is the finest most delicate salt of all. The north of the island is filled with active salt marshes and when you cycle by you can see the pyramid-shaped piles of salt between the sections of the marsh.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Experience The French Atlantic Coast

Local donkeys, ‘baudets du Poitou’ used to work in the marshes and in order to protect their legs from the mosquitos and salt, they wore handcrafted trousers, which can still be seen during donkey rides in the island capital of St Martin. Fishing and oyster farming are also a huge part of the island’s life and the seafood there is truly unparalleled.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Experience The French Atlantic Coast

It can take almost an hour to cross the entire island, depending on traffic, from the first village in the south to the ‘Phare des Baleines’ (Whale’s Lighthouse) at the northern tip of the island. At the foot of this lighthouse, there is each year a jazz festival that brings together incredible performers such as Earth, Wind & Fire and Jimmy Cliff, who play for a handful of attendees by the Atlantic Ocean. The villages also each hold firework shows for Bastille Day and other occasions, as well as hosting nightly markets and bands, complete with dancing on the port.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Experience The French Atlantic Coast

I could wax lyrical about this small piece of land for hours and don’t think I’d ever run out of things to say. There truly is something for everyone and now, you need to go and discover it for yourself. If you’re looking for wedding inspiration for your big day, pop over to the La Fête Blog here.

Image Credits:
Bensimon.com
Vincent Brun Hannay Ile de Ré
Artflakes.com
fromezterwithlove.blogspot.nl
whiteandwander.blogspot.co.uk

Morocco is so much more than the cliché quasi-permanently attached to it, of exoticism and mystical Arabian nights, not totally dissimilar to Aladdin’s fictional Agrabah, complete with fez-wearing monkeys and magic carpets. If any Moroccan city were to even fulfil a part of this it would have to be Marrakech, who, despite its cosmopolitan and modern image, still retains a particular kind of timeless mysticism. Between the first time I went there as a child with my family up until now, including the numerous trips in between, Marrakech still has the same effect on me. It’s as though the second I exit the airplane, I get sprinkled with magic dust.

The Travel Diaries: Marrakech

 

And that’s exactly why I chose Marrakech for my bachelorette party next February. My sister is planning it and all I really know is where we’re staying and who is coming. Other than that, I’m in the dark, so unfortunately can’t share with you what we’ll be getting up to. But what I can tell you about are some of the things I always get up to each time I go and just why I love that city so much.

The Travel Diaries: Marrakech

My favourite place is undoubtedly Jemaa el-Fnaa, a large square in the city’s historic medina quarter. Overlooked by the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque, the square is peppered with water-sellers in traditional pom-pom adorned costumes, henna artists, monkeys and snakes being liberally plonked on unsuspecting tourists, horse-drawn carriages and probably my favourite part, fruit stalls. Here you will savour the best dates and freshly squeezed orange juice of your life, especially welcome during the stifling summer months. From there, I always weave my way into the souk (market) the same way: it so happens that my favourite shops and vendors are in that direction, but it also prevents me getting lost in the maze of spice-smelling narrow streets. Speaking of favourite shops, these include antique stores that sell traditional jewellery, more modern jewellery establishments where you pay by weight and can even design your jewellery on the spot, babouches (Moroccan slippers) salesmen and plenty of tiny nooks filled with marquetry boxes, candle holders, fabrics, spices and more. Almost more satisfying than the wandering around and shopping is the negotiating: they can be tough negotiators in the souk, but it truly is great fun every single time.

The Travel Diaries: Marrakech

Removed from the souk is the Jardin Majorelle, a beautiful garden in the centre of the city, with all its buildings painted in a bright shade of electric blue.Originally bought and developed by a French painter, Jacques Majorelle, its claim to fame is its ownership by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. They even lived in the garden, in one of the villas and tirelessly continued Majorelle’s vision, making the garden home to a unique collection of plant species and elevating it to the level of a must-see when visiting Marrakech.

The Travel Diaries: Marrakech

Last but not least, another activity, which is an absolute must and one of my favourites, is camel riding in the desert. Go to La Pause, outside of the city to enjoy a memorable camel ride, followed by lounging on tapestry cushions and
gallons of mint tea. Even though you could do this in other North African countries, La Pause is in my opinion a flawless setting and very Sex and the City (cliché I know, but you’ve got to love it).

The Travel Diaries: Marrakech

If you’d like to read more of our Travel Diaries, visit the La Fête blog here, where you’ll also find heaps of beautiful wedding inspiration and planning tips!