Ile de Re Food
You've cycled all morning, visited museums and fortresses all afternoon, you've slept well and woken up hungry. What's for breakfast? Breakfast in a French hotel will seldom be a big deal. Normally it will consist of the basics, namely coffee or tea, bread and a croissant with butter, jam and fruit juice. If you are lucky it might also include cornflakes, boiled eggs and fruit, all for for around €12. If you go to the local bar you should be able to get the basics as described above for €6 and still have €6 left in your pocket.
Now that the most important meal of the day is out of the way, let's consider the rest:
French meals are generally similar to other Western European meals. There is the occasional slightly bizarre dish such as calves' brains, frogs' legs and tripe sausages. Despite this the country has a reputation for producing sophisticated, world class cuisine. Quality can range up to the very best but it is by no means impossible to find a bad meal, even today.
It can sometimes be difficult to find vegetables on the menu of a French restaurant, but this can be resolved by choosing a salad or asking the waiter for extra vegetables; just don't be surprised if you get an odd look.
The majority of French menus will use the best of local produce and should include a range of:
The menu of the day, normally chalked on a board outside, will be great value. This will be available Monday to Friday 12:00 to 14:00 and you may be able to get three courses with a local wine for €12. Vegetarian dishes are available but often unimaginative (think omelette, mushroom pizza).
On the Ile you will find English on one side of the menu, however if you want a good food translation book then the one at the bottom of this page is still the best around.
France has benefited by the import of other national cuisines so you will find Italian, North African and Chinese restaurants in larger towns. It is a generalisation but the first two are more likely to be of high quality.
Local produce is sold in a number of island markets, and you won't find better quality anywhere. Whether you are self-catering or just looking for some bread, cheese and fruit for a picnic lunch, make sure you stop by the markets as you cycle past.
There is a wonderful permanent market near the harbour in La Flotte with booths around the edge that sell mainly foodstuffs and stalls that are put up in the middle of the area to sell clothing, other items and yet more food.
In St Martin, search out the covered market (again, near the harbour) with its fabulous displays of fish, fruit, vegetables and all manner of other things.
Ars en Re also has a dedicated market area which bustles on market days - and that's every day in summer. Several other villages, notably La Couarde, have a temporary market in the street on certain days.