This is a sweet little café overlooking the harbour in the pretty hollyhock-lined island village of Ars-en-Ré. We sat on one of the tables on the outdoor terrace last summer and watched the world go by in a very leisurely fashion - the Île de Ré is completely flat and so is known for its cycle paths and lack of cars. Their coffee is fantastic, but if you really want to push the boat out, order a plate of the local oysters fresh from the sea just metres away from your table.
Amazing fish restaurant! Simply the best fish and shellfish I have ever eaten. Spectacular selection and reasonable prices. If you're looking for a treat though, head straight for L'Homard (lobster - grilled and served with a delicious cream and tarragon sauce). You are ushered to the 'Vivier' (literally 'live tank') with great ceremony to choose the lobster you wish to eat. A real performance - worth every euro (€12/100 grams in June 2008 - €55-60 for a typical lobster).
11 Quai de la Poitheviniere, 17410 Saint Martin de Re
Tel 05 46 09 20 55
The harbourside in St Martin is crammed full of restaurants, but this was the best we found by a long chalk. It catches the evening sun longer than many others too!
Inventive food impeccably cooked, decent wine list with many charentais wines chosen. It's generally more considered and less frenetic than some of the other more classic tourist-traps on the waterfront.
15 quai Clémenceau
For the culinarily inclined be sure to order the local oysters (huitres), prepared in many different ways. One local dish worth trying is Eclade de palourdes - clams cooked over pine needles. And a regional treat is the Chaudrée Charentaise - a creamed, fish stew that resembles chowder.
Local restaurants all over the island
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