Ile de Ré is a perfect summer destination for families. Wide beaches, sports parks, and car-free cycling paths make this Island one of the best places for kids in France. In this article, I’m going to tell you about all the best things you can do with kids in Ile de Ré.
Some of the activities I’m going to offer are better fit for older kids and some are very fun to do with toddlers/ babies as well. And as it’s a summer destination, these are mostly outdoor activities. But just in case it rains, I added a few really fun indoor places you can take your kids to in and around Ile de Ré.
The best things to do with kids in Île de Ré
Discover the Island on bikes
This is the one activity on this list I consider a must!
Île de Ré is one of the most bicycle-friendly places in France and cycling is the best way to discover the Island. The Island is flat so it’s easy to cycle around even if you’re not in shape.
There is a cycling path in almost every part of the Island, connecting all its 10 villages so you don’t need a car to move around Île de Ré. Most of the paths around the villages and the salt marshes are car-free which makes it very safe for kids to cycle.
As it’s a family-friendly destination, most bike rental places have kids’ bikes, child bicycle trailers, bike seats, and more. This means you don’t have to bring anything with you. If your kids are too heavy to carry, try electric bikes, which you can rent in bike shops in Ile de Ré.
Keep in mind that Île de Ré is a very popular destination so in the summer the bicycle paths can get quite busy. If possible, try to start your day early or at least avoid very crowded town centers like Saint Martin de Re and Le Bois Plage en Ré.
Where to rent bikes in Île de Ré
There are rental bikes in every village, so just rent one from wherever you’re staying and start discovering the Island. We rented bikes from different places and we always got great service and equipment.
Here are two rental shops I used on my last two visits: Beach Bikes in the center of Saint Martin de Ré and Les Cycles N in Ars en Ré.
Here’s a good map of all the cycling paths on the Island, to help you plan your trip. You can get a physical copy of it at any tourist office in the Ile de Re as well as the rental bike shops.
Go to the beach
You didn’t think I would omit the beach from this list, right? It’s an island with more than 100km of coastline after all!
There are lots of amazing beaches in Ile de Ré, however, some are particularly safer for kids. When the tide is low you can collect shells, one of the activities kids seem to love the most.
Here are some of my recommendations for kid-friendly beaches in Ile de Ré:
Plage du Grouin in Loix in the north part of the Island tucked in a calmer part of the Island, facing La Rochelle. This beach feels more like a lake than the ocean, which makes it a very fun beach for families.
Plage des Gollandières is a vast beautiful beach located in Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré. Even on busy summer days, you can always find a place here. If your kids are a bit older, you have plenty of water activities to choose from on this beach. The beach is also supervised in the summer.
Plage de Gros Jonc is yet another family-friendly beach in Les Portes-en-Ré, the northwest of the Island. There are two sailing schools on the beach and plenty of water activities like surfing and bodyboarding. It’s particularly loved by small kids thanks to the rock pool on the side of the beach.
Learn How to surf
A vacation in Ile de Ré is a great opportunity to take surfing lessons. The island is home to many surfing schools so you don’t have to go far from where you’re staying to take daily lessons.
Here are two recommended surf schools in Ile de Ré:
Swim and Surf is a surf school in le Bois Plage en Ré that’s open all year long.
In the summer the school offers a 5-day course for kids (over 6yo) as well as for adults. Outside the summer season, you can also take private surf classes.
See all the details here.
Re Surf is another great surfing school that is open from April to November.
You can find the school in two villages, le Bois Plage en Ré in the south of the island and Les Portes en Re in the northwest.
Like the first school on the list, this school offers five-day courses in small groups or private surfing lessons. You can get a discount if several family members are enrolled in the school. The courses are offered during the summer and other French school vacations.
Private lessons are offered during the rest of the opening period as well.
If you already know how to surf you can rent surf equipment from them as well. See all the details here.
There are of course many other surf guides and schools you can find in Ile de Re, so try what’s closer to your camping site/hotel.
Keep your balance on the SUP
If surfing looks too hard, you can always enjoy a stand-up pedal (SUP) at the calmer beaches around the Island. Ile de Ré offers a variety of SUP activities from guided tours along the salt marshes to SUP lessons and yoga on a SUP.
If you’re interested in taking SUP lessons go to SUP Evasion, a school located in Couarde sur Mer. The school offers SUP classes to adults and kids over 8yo. If you already know how to handle your SUP, just rent the equipment and go explore the natural spaces of this magical Island. Here are all the details about the courses and renting.
If your kids are older than 12yo you can also enjoy a guided SUP tour. This is an amazing way to discover some hidden natural gems that are only accessible by SUP/boat.
Take your kids to la plage des Enfants
La Plage des Enfants is a kids club that offers plenty of fun activities for kids from 3 to 13 yo. The place consists of five different clubs offering plenty of activities for kids such as swimming, golf, and circus classes. One of the clubs is dedicated to little kids (3-3.5 yo) where they can enjoy soft play, crab fishing, and more.
The facility is located at the Plage du Gros Jonc in Les Portes en Ré, north of the Island. You can check out details about all the clubs and prices here.
La Plage des Enfants is going to open for the summer season on July 3rd. It’s a popular family activity, so booking in advance is highly recommended.
Donkey riding is one of the most popular activities in Saint Martin de Ré, the main village of Ile de Ré.
The donkey is a very symbolic animal here in Ile de Ré. In the past, donkeys were used to harvest salt and transfer it from one village to another. And while the locals have stopped using them for agriculture you can still see them grazing next to the citadel of Saint Martin de Ré.
You can enjoy donkey riding daily in the summer and during French school vacations. The activity starts at Parc de la Barbette (next to the Vaubin parking). See all details here.
La Réserve Naturelle Nationale de Lilleau des Niges
If the weather isn’t perfect for a beach day, you can take your kids bird-watching at the natural reserve of Lilleau des Niges. This beautiful reserve is located just next to the quiet village of Les Portes en Ré.
Ile de Ré is a paradise for bird watching, with more than 200 bird species observed on the Island. There are also more than 40 butterfly species to look for, so keep your eyes and cameras open. The best time for this activity is spring and autumn when many birds start to migrate. It’s best to come when the tide is high as it’s when you’re more likely to see plenty of birds.
Lilleau des Niges has plenty of paths to follow to explore the salt marshes while you’re looking for birds and butterflies.
Discover Île de Ré through a game – Terra Aventura
Exploring new places with kids can be a daunting task, especially when they get bored. Our region, Nouvelle Aquitaine, has come up with a perfect solution for that, a geocaching game called Terra Aventura.
Terra Aventura is an immersive activity that will help you get your kids engaged when discovering a new destination. Be it a natural reserve or a historic landmark, the game makes them discover the place playfully through a series of questions and clues.
Terra Aventura is a free app, all you need to do is download it on your phone. The games are offered in French and English. The app currently has two routes in Ile de Ré. One is in Loix and the other one is a route that should be done by bicycle in Le Bois Plage en Re.
See all the details about the games in Ile de Ré following this link.
Club de plage Les Dauphins
If you’re traveling with toddlers, Club de Plage Les Dauphins is perfect for you. The kids club, operating in the summer offers a variety of activities for kids starting from 2yo. The baby club that opens in the morning hours includes a program of games, swimming, storytelling, a trampoline, and more.
And while your kids play or learn how to swim you can enjoy a great selection of sportive activities for adults like aqua biking or aquagym.
The kids club is located on Peu Rago beach in La Couarde sur Mer. See more details here.
A Catamaran trip
Another way to enjoy the ocean and the beautiful landscape of Ile de Ré is by taking a Catamaran trip. Dream’on is a company that offers two hours trips on a catamaran that your kids will absolutely love!
The trip starts from the port of Saint Martin de Ré, the main village on the Island. You can take the trip daily from April to early November. See all the details and ticket prices here.
If you need a bit of a break from water activities you can take your kids skating.
The Skatepark of Les Portes en Ré is located in L’aire de loisirs de la Plaine du Gros Jonc. It’s a huge recreation area with plenty of facilities for kids like a playground, picnic tables, and a big skateboard park.
The park is free and open all year long, see more details here.
Learn how honey is made
Abeille de Ré is a honey farm located in the artisanal village of Loix. Apart from delicious honey they also offer different activities that will make your kids explore the world of bees.
Take their guided tour to discover the work of the beekeeper. If you come at the right time you can even attend a honey extraction and taste fresh honey.
The tours take palace from April to September at 16:30, see details here. From time to time the place also offers magic shows for little kids, see the dates here.
Le manège en… chanteur de Donin
Sometimes a good carousel is all children really need and Ile de Re has a special one to offer. Le Manège en Chanteur, located in the beautiful village of Ars en Re, was created in 1983 by Donin. While the vintage carousel has its charm, the real attraction here is Donin himself. A sweet singer who loves kids and amuses them with his funny songs while they ride the carousel.
The Carousel is open daily from 10:00 to 13:00 from mid-April to early November.
See all the details here.
Kids-friendly day trips from Île de Ré
A day trip to La Rochelle
Anyone coming to this part of France must dedicate at least one day to the beautiful port city of La Rochelle. It’s one of the best destinations on the Atlantic coast, a lively city with plenty of monuments, restaurants, and charming streets.
It can also be a lovely day trip to do with your kids when staying in Ile de Ré. You can enjoy the many parks, restaurants, kids’ museums, and attractions this city has to offer. To get there you can take a car or a bus but one of the best ways to do it is by boat.
The sea shuttle leaves every morning from the port of Saint Martin de Ré to the lively port of La Rochelle. This trip allows you to observe the Island from the sea as well as the historic monument of fort boyard on the way. In the summer, there’s a shuttle several times a day.
See hours and ticket prices here.
A day trip to Sable d’Olonne
Sable d’Olonne is one of the most popular towns on the Atlantic coast famous for its beaches and long promenade. If you have a few days in Ile de Ré you can take the time to discover other treasures in the region like Sable d’Olonne.
The P’tit Natien boat leaves daily from the port of Saint Martin de Ré to the shores of Sable d’Olonne. The sail takes about 1.5 hours and usually leaves at 9:30 or 10:30, during the summer season.
See all the details here.
Go to the best Aquarium in the region
And last but not least, don’t miss a chance to take your kids to one of the best aquariums in France!
La Rochelle is home to one of France’s biggest aquariums exhibiting more than 12,000 animals of 600 different species. Every floor of the Aquarium is dedicated to a different sea and shows you the different animals inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean sea, the carbines, and more.
It’s one of the favorite kids’ attractions in the Southwest of France! Do it either as a day trip from Ile de Ré or on your way to or from the Island. The aquarium is open daily all year round, see the opening hours here.
Where to stay with kids in Île de Ré
Île de Ré is a family summer destination and as such it’s home to many camping sites, houses, and kids-friendly hotels.
Camping sites can vary from simple ones to 5-star sites that include mobile homes, pools, and activities for kids. So you have a huge variety to choose from according to your taste and budget.
Also, one important tip from a local, the southwest of France can get very hot in the summer! If 35C+ is not your cup of tea make sure there’s AC in your accommodation before booking it!
Most French vacation from July 15 to August 15 so prices will be at their peak during that period. If you have the option, try to schedule your vacation towards the end of August.
If you’re interested in renting a mobile house on a camping site Sunêlia – Interlude in Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré is a great option. It’s a 5-star camping site with a big pool, a babysitting service, a spa, and a restaurant.
For more simple and affordable options you can check Camping Le Suroit and Camp du Soleil
which are both very kids-friendly campings.
`If you’re traveling with a big family (or several families together) you have this great villa with 5 separate bedrooms. It’s very close to the center of Saint Martin de Re so you’ll be located in the center of things.
Or this house in Le Bois Plage en Re if you want to stay closer to one of the most family-friendly beaches in Ile de Ré.
Here are other articles about amazing places in the Charentes you might like to read when planning your trip to Ile de Re:
Where to eat at La Rochelle
What to do in Cognac
Discover the French capital of comics and street art – Angouleme
Aubeterre sur Dronne – the most beautiful village in Charente
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂