Church of Saint-Martin at Saint-Martin-de-Ré!

And to continue now on the west coast of my belle France and in beautiful tranquil Ïle de Ré and its wonderful main city of Saint-Martin de Ré. We are having cold days as winter seems to finally stay in but with high of 7C in my neck of the wood la vie en rose!!

As before, let me give you a bit on the town and then on the Church. Enjoy the tour!

Sainte-Marie-de-Ré is located on the Ile de Ré (island), in the Charente-Maritime dépt 17 of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. This small town has agglomerated the hamlet of the Noue stretching continuously along the south coast of the island of Ré, from the pointe de Chauveau to the Grenettes beach, facing the ïle d’Oleron. The coast is lined with beaches and small cliffs , where the remains of many fish locks are discovered at low tide. The presence of many blockhouses of the Atlantic Wall on the coast reminds us of the dark hours that the town experienced during WWII. During the French revolution, the town bore the name of the L’Union. On December 27, 1888, Sainte-Marie took the name Sainte-Marie-de-Ré.

The parish Church of Saint-Martin in Saint-Martin-de-Ré still draws its gothic ruins in the heart of the city. Ravaged several times by conflicts, it was eventually rebuilt more modestly in the 17-18C, reusing what remained of the Gothic edifice.

In fact, the construction of a new building in the 14C, which seems to have continued in the 15C after the troubled period of the Hundred Years ‘ War, began. In view of the surviving ruins, the Church had to be spacious and very bright, with a perfectly respectable vaulted height. It was also fortified (it then took the name of “Grand Fort”), in view of the remains of machicolations still present today on the medieval ruins. It is a complete system of machicolations on arches on the facades that overflow on the walls.

The Ïle de Ré, with a Protestant majority, was sacked by the latter in 1586 during their disputes on the territory against the Catholics. The church collapses in large part; however, there will remain only the base of the walls of the nave and the lateral chapels and the high walls of the transept, preserved because of their military importance, being fortified. In the 17C the cult was able to resume in the devastated edifice, after the victory of the Catholics over the Protestants. In 1629 the actual reconstruction work begins. They will last for several years. But the building was again ravaged in 1696 during the bombardment of the stronghold of Saint-Martin-de-Ré by a fleet consisting of English and Dutch ships. In the French revolution, the cult is momentarily closed.

Saint Martin de Re

The bell tower now serves as a panoramic terrace on the city and its surroundings. The steeple formed by a square tower is now visitable and contains three imposing bells: Marie Thérèse ,the biggest one ; Charles Catherine ;the middle one; and Marie Pierre Michel Samuel Augustine, the little one. The oldest parts date from the 15C: These are the walls of the two crosses of the transept, still in elevation, endowed with a path of round and endowed with their gates to the mutilated statuary. The chapels of the present choir (which was in fact the nave of the old Church) ,and those of the south aisle also subsist in the medieval building. You can also see a window of flamboyant style and now obstructed on the north hole wall. The building of 1628 was also vaulted with warheads and followed the orientation of the medieval church. However, it was strongly shaken by the collapse of the bell tower in 1774, and only the clipped columns and the high sides of the aisles and the nave seem to remain. The orientation of the choir was altered after the collapse of 1774, and a new steeple was built at the site of the medieval shrine. The church was then roof covered.

The 18C bell tower, of neo-classical style, built during the reconstruction of the Church when its orientation changed. Previously, it was the choir that was in that place. The Church of Saint Martin has a rare characteristic with five altars side-by-side along the apse!. From left to right you see the Altar of the Holy Rosary, the High Altar, the Altar of St. Martin and the Altar of the Sacred Heart. The Altar of St. Radegonde, on the left, is hidden. Stained glass on the right aisle of Saint Augustine and his mother, St. Monique, are in meditation in Ostia. The Chapel of the Sailors with its traditional ex-voto of models of boats and paintings.

 Saint Martin de Re

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Saint Martin de Ré on tourist office

Tourist office of Ile de Re on heritage in English

Very off the beaten path but another wonderful spot in my belle France. The detour on the island is well recommended.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “Church of Saint-Martin at Saint-Martin-de-Ré!”

  1. Ma belle france aussi. C’est la région que je visite normalement. Merci beaucoup.

    Liked by 1 person

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