Joined by a bridge to the mainland, a hop from La Rochelle, is the small sunny island where the beautiful people go. Down a peaceful backstreet in the sleepy town of Ars is a whitewashed former fisherman’s cottage, a little house of surprises. Step into the kitchen/diner, simple and well-equipped with oak worktops, white crockery, yellow cookware, a Nespresso machine. The sitting room too is in understated Ile-de-Re style: wood-clad walls and seascape colours, squishy linen sofa and open fire, textured rugs and quirky brocante finds. Then it’s up the narrow painted staircase to two bedrooms panelled in barely-there-pink, with cream carpets, white bedspreads and white curtains at south-facing windows. Pllows, quilts and mattresses are new; linen you hire (or bring your own). No garden but no worry: the island is bliss for bike rides from village to village – or dune-beach to dune-beach (the longest stretch for two miles) – and charming, cobbled St Martin is a French celeb-spotter’s paradise. Cool off at a quayside café, with a plate of oysters or a glass of the local microbrew.