Open the photo gallery >>

Obviously when you’ve spent an entire night and day in the car in fiercely hot temperatures driving through a foreign country the correct thing to do the following morning is to get up early, drive a long way, and have a full day out.

As I’m writing this blog post nearly 10 years after the event (sometimes it takes me a little time to get around to these things) I really can’t remember a lot of detail about the day other than that we went onto the Île de Ré and drove to the very furthest end to visit the Phares des Baleines, a rather large lighthouse at the very western tip of the island. I remember it was very warm, but that was true of the whole week.

The Île de Ré is about 30km long and is pretty much totally flat. Essentially it’s an offshore sandbank that’s just high enough to have been occupied and hence protected from the sea. Until 1988 you had to catch a ferry to get there. The new bridge from La Rochelle is the most expensive piece of road (per km) in France. Which is shorthand for saying it costs quite a lot to cross the bridge. Evidence from a subsequent trip in 2009 suggests also that they put the price up in the French school holidays. This was June though, so the price was (relatively) modest.

The photos in the gallery provide evidence that we actually went up to the top of the lighthouse.