Île de Ré and Saint Martin de Ré!

So lets bring you back out to the coast and even beyond to an island off the mainland of France. Lovely place it reminds me of my favorite islands in a time far away now, but always nice to come back to the roots. island boy,beach bum you name it the thrills are huge! I have written on it in a general sense before in my blog.

However, as usual running with so much to see feel that I need to detail the most important monuments to see according to me lol! This is lovely ïle de Ré or Re island and the main capital city is Saint Martin de Ré. 

Brief introduction to the ïle de Ré:

The Île de Ré is the fourth largest island of metropolitan France, behind Corsica, the island of Oléron and Belle-Ile island (Morbihan 56!) It is located in the dept 17 of the Charente-Maritime in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. The historic center of the island is Saint-Martin-de-Ré, which forms with the neighboring town of La Flotte the urban unit of the Flotte. The island of Ré is separated from the mainland by the Pertuis Breton and is located north of the islands of Aix, Oléron, Madame and Nôle, and the forts Boyard, d’Enet and Louvois located in the Pertuis of Antioch to the South. Since 1988, it is connected to the mainland by the Pont de Île de Ré or island of Re bridge. Touristic wise, the island is nicknamed “Ré la Blanche” or Re the White one because of the characteristic hue of its traditional houses.

We move on to the inner city of Saint Martin de Ré ,visiting the Church of 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.

saint martin de re

saint martin de re

The parish Church of Saint-Martin in Saint-Martin-de-Ré still stands in Gothic ruins in the heart of the city. Raved repeatedly by the conflicts, it was eventually rebuilt more modestly in the 17-18C, reusing what remained of the Gothic edifice.

The origins of the city and the Church of Saint Martin are poorly known, although the fact that the two were destroyed by the Normans is quite probable. It is known however with certainty that in the 11C, the parish was given in the Puy-en-Velay chapter by the Count of Poitou. The canons will retain the parish until the 16C. However, there remains no vestige of the 11C Romanesque church. However this church was to be ruined less than a century later. The island of Ré, predominantly Protestant, was put to sack by the latter in 1586 during their disputes over the territory against the Catholics. The Church collapses in large part: 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, have been fortified.

saint martin de re

In the 17C the cult was able to resume in the devastated the Church  of Saint Martin after the victory of the Catholics over the Protestants. In 1629, the reconstruction work that was said to begin lasted for several years. But the Church 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. On the first day of the year 1774 the Bell Tower collapses, dragging with it a part of the vaults. It was then decided to rebuild the building by reversing the orientation of the choir: steeple to the East, chorus now to the West. At the French revolution, the cult is momentarily closed. The Bell Tower now serves as a panoramic terrace on the city and its surroundings.

saint martin de re

The oldest parts date from the 15C, these are the walls of the two cross-crosses of the transept, still in elevation, with a path of round and endowed with their portals to the mutilated statuary. There are also the chapels of the present Choir ,and those of the South side of the medieval church. One can also see a window of flamboyant style and today obstructed gutted on the North wall. The steeple formed by a square Tower is now visitable and contains three imposing bells: Marie Thérèse (the largest ring ); Charles Catherine , and Marie Pierre Michel Samuel Augustine , the smallest one.

saint martin de re

Chapel in memory of priests killed by the French revolution

The parish of Ile de Re on the Church in French

Tourist office of the Ile de Re on the Church

The Citadel of Saint-Martin-de-Ré is a military work built from 1690 to protect the island of Ré. It is one of the main historical monuments of the city of Saint-Martin-de-Ré. In 1873 it was transformed into a depot for the regrouping of prisoners destined to be sent to the Bagnes and was for 65 years (from 1873 to 1938), the only point of grouping of convicts to forced labour, before their departure, by boat (the Loire, or La Martinière), towards the prison of French Guyana or the prison of New Caledonia.

saint martin de re

A first Citadel was built in 1625 which was destroyed in 1628. It was rebuilt by Vauban and François Ferry from 1681 until the end of the 17C, following the siege of La Rochelle. It protects La Rochelle and Rochefort from the English invasions. In the 18C, access bridges were rebuilt. In the 20C, buildings were built for prisoners.

saint martin de re

The Citadel served many years as a gathering place for the convicts who were leaving for the Bagnes of New Caledonia and Guyana. It was then transformed into a penitentiary, a Central House still active. The visit of the ramparts west side of the city and on the entire waterfront is possible with the porte de La Flotte, currently Porte Thoiras . And the Porte de la Couarde, currently the Porte de  Campani.

saint martin de re

With 485 places, the penitentiary of Saint-Martin-de-Ré is the most important Central House in France, and the prison administration, the main employer of the island . In 1958, the Thoiras barracks of the Penitentiary Center was reserved for Algerian prisoners. It is a case, undoubtedly unique in France and Europe, of a prison located in the heart of a renowned tourist area, in the town of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, and of which a part of the infrastructures is classified as World Heritage site by UNESCO!

saint martin de re

Tourist office of Ile de Re on the citadel

Official site of Vauban fortifications on the Citadel of Saint Martin de Re

There you go something to get you over the island, car is king and the ride over the bridge is awesome. Once in the towns walking is best. Again for public transports see the tourist office here: Tourist office on public transports in the Ile de Re

Hope you have enjoy the post and thank you again for stopping by. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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6 Comments to “Île de Ré and Saint Martin de Ré!”

  1. It’s on my bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for more memories, I cycled on Île de Ré in 2007…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ile de Ré is also n my bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

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