Île de Ré, the old Poitou-Charentes

The Île de Ré is a nice wonderdul island , the fourth largest on metropolitan France! It is now in the new region of France, Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentais ,waiting to choose a new compose name this year. The tourist office is here : http://www.holidays-iledere.co.uk/

The new region information page is at http://laregion-alpc.fr/  ; and the tourism office still Under the old name here : http://www.visit-poitou-charentes.com/

I have written before of La Rochelle, where my oldest son studied and we have visited several times. Ile de Ré been just on the other side was not our wish, but due to the National team of Spain staying there while the Euro16 European football/soccer Championship going on now in France, we decided to take a look. http://www.holidays-iledere.co.uk/news/ile-de-re-base-camp-spanish-football-team.  Nice  surprise especially on St Martin de Ré.

The ride was nice and we got up early leaving by 6H or 6AM taking the N165 direction airport of Nantes ,Nantes-Atlantique, then Bordeaux on the toll A10, and then La Rochelle on the A83 then  exit 7 to  the D237 , N11  and continuing to Ile de Ré  and then in the island on the d735 and D201 and D103. Coming back we took a more quaint trip going all the way on the D137  passing by the wine region of Clisson into the beltway or périphérique of Nantes into the N844 and then N165 home. The morning ride was foggy and cool at 10C and then the day went up into sunny and 24C as well as 21C on the way back.

The highlight of the road trip was crossing the the bridge linking the Mainland with the island, the Le Pont de Ré, magnificent and 8€ roundtrip toll. In French, all about the bridge here: http://www.pont-ile-de-re.com/

I went straight to the Atalante Thalasso hotel in Sainte Marie de Ré where the Spanish team was staying and to my upsetting disappointment the whole was block by police ,gendarmerie with wagon and steel barriers all even before reaching the hotel!!! http://iledere.relaisthalasso.com/hotel/fr

This is the price we paid by those who do not follow the law, the law abiding Citizens end up paying more. So sad not to see the team. We console ourselves with a walking tour of the town of Sainte Marie de Ré,nothing much to report.  There is decent Church of Ste Marie de Ré, a typical nice quaint market day by place d’Antioche; we had our breads at boulangerie maison Marin, right there, we walked to the dunes at Plage de Montamer, rocky and good for on foot fishing with some white sandy sections ; http://www.holidays-iledere.co.uk/plan/sights-culture/441586-plage-de-montamer ,and a wonderful seashore park, with children playground. tourism office here: http://www.holidays-iledere.co.uk/detail/71062516e35799e1f0d4865e9c0fcbdf/151348

We move on to Saint-Martin-de-Ré a bigger town and nicer, nice surprise in should be a nice stop for all. Here we went straight for the Stadium stade Marcel Gaillard  where Spain was to train during the Euro16. Again ,another disappointment as the stadium was Under security not even parking in the parking area, all cover the fences with a mesh to avoid the view in and not team. due to the terrorist condition the bus comes on training time and leave again, very difficult to see unless you camp out according to the security guard on duty…..arrgghhht. http://www.saint-martin-de-re.fr/fr/actualite/108033/euro-2016-saint-martin-de-re-terrain

We again has to settle for a walking tour of the town. We found parking by Vauban near the Citadelle , first hour free and then for the day 6€. This was a nice surprise as it has wonderful Vauban citadelle fortifications that you can go in into the inner yards of the enclosure, but not Inside as it is now a prison ::)  http://www.saint-martin-de-re.net/decouvrir-saint-martin-de-re/les-fortifications-vauban/

All along the border a wonderful view of the sea and views of the other smaller island the île d’Aix. There is a quaint lighthouse red (phare toit rouge) there and a wonderful harbor for pleasure boats into the center of the town.

By now we were hungry and mostly thirsty so without any real choosing I told the gang to eat at Le Phare resto pizzeria by 4 Quai de Bernonville facing the habor, and it was a 10. We ate in the terrace just next to the water, with a friendly fishing dog that no fear of going into the water! the service was fast and friendly and we had our usual mussels or moules au curry and Rochefort with pizzas, great Leffe beers and desserts like the rice pudding in caramel sauce with express coffee to finish all for 36€ per person, a bit high but good considering you are in a very touristic  island. Local link with more: http://www.trip-iledere.com/bar-restaurant-le-phare-saint-martin-ile-de-re/

We move on to the inner city, visiting the Church Saint Martin, with gothic ruins (from Normans invasions)  in the middle of the high city to be seen from the harbor. Today the oldest part dates from the 15C  on the walls on both sides of the high towers in ruins.  The belltower has a square tower and has three bells, such as the Marie Thérèse, the big one that sounds, the  Charles Catherine , the medium one, and the  Marie Pierre Michel Samuel Augustine , the smallest sound.

The refreshing busy town and the quaint harbor, pleasure marina ,and citadelle and great ambiance by the wharfs was a great surprise and a good consolation for missing out on the Spanish team. It would be a great vacation area combining it with beach there and sights additional at La Rochelle or even further north at Rochefort-en-Mer.

The Île de Ré has other spots such as Loix, La Flotte, Rivedoux-Plage,Ars en Ré, Saint-Clément-des-Baléines, and Phare des Baléines , as well as Les Portes en Ré passing a natural reserve area. Another wonderful spot in France, but they are so many ,can go nuts trying to see them all lol!!!

Cheers and happy Sunday. I will be waiting for new travels expériences soon.

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