Lured for many years to further and more exotic destinations it was a September trip to Ile de Re in 2016 which reminded me how much I love France. Just 22 Kilometres long, the island is connected to La Rochelle by a bridge. I couldn’t believe that such an easy journey could take me to somewhere so idyllic; you can literally see the bridge from the airport and it takes minutes to cross. Such a short transfer is perfect when you are travelling with a toddler!
We rented this charming house in La Noue, one of the tiny, pretty villages which cover the island, all with white-washed houses with green or grey shutters, weekly markets and a small spattering of shops and restaurants, all very chic and blending in perfectly. The house itself was a characterful mix of old French furniture and contemporary decor with a lovely shady garden at the front.
Almost completely flat, the island is a cyclist’s paradise. It is all covered with cycling tracks and the bike is unquestionably the favorite mode of transport. We spent our days either at the beach or cycling through vineyards and salt flats to stop at different pretty towns and villages for al-fresco lunches. The island’s capital, St Martin de Re, with it’s stunning UNESCO double harbor is the highlight, but La Flotte is also a really pretty place for a wander.
There was something about the slow pace of life on the island, the lack of traffic or overt commercialism and the simple, wholesome lifestyle that we temporarily enjoyed which reminded me of my childhood holidays in Brittany in the 80s. And it was this spirit which I tried to capture when I designed the Ile de Re dress for Sugar Sand. I wanted to design something that was simple, could be thrown on over a swimsuit or worn when cycling, but was still chic and had a prettiness to it (hence the gently puffed sleeves). I was also of course inspired by the colour palette of the island with the white houses and pastel green shutters (then decided it would also look good in pink)! Shop the Ile de Re dress here.