Île de Ré and Sainte Marie de Ré!

And I take you back out to the coast of my belle France, this is heaven for me having grew up 6 kms from the ocean and later lived at 150 meters from it; now at 30 km from it. Water is important and I love everything to do with it even if cannot practice all like scuba now !

I have written on this island before but somehow did not do justice to this town but the other , see previous post of March 31 2019. So, therefore, here is my brief humble tribute to Sainte Marie de Ré in the island or Ïle de Ré!

The town of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré is located on the Ïle de Ré, in the department 17 of Charente-Maritime,region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. This small town has agglomerated the hamlet of Noue extending continuously along the south coast of the Ile de Ré, the Pointe de Chauveau to the plage de Grenettes beach, facing the Ïle d’Oléron. It has become the most populated town of Île de Ré. Its coast is lined with beaches and small cliffs, where the remains of numerous fish locks are discovered at low tide. The presence of numerous blockhouses of the Atlantic Wall on the coast reminds the dark hours that the town lived during WWII.

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During the French revolution, the town bore the name of L’Union. In 1888, Sainte-Marie took the name of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré. And by 1928 in association with the town of La Flotte, Sainte-Marie-de-Ré gives part of its territory to form the village of Rivedoux-Plage (beach).

The first mention of the parish of Sainte-Marie dates from 1178. The Abbey of Châteliers contributes to the settlement of the parish and the development of land, especially planted in vines.  For more than ten centuries, the village’s economy has been entirely focused on growing grapes. Some resources are also taken from the shore (fish, shells). This period has left a strong rural footprint typical still visible through the streets: facades of houses, farm buildings, walls enclosures, etc.  Most of the population is gathered in Sainte Marie de Ré and in the important village of La Noue.

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The Church Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption is a fortified parish church. The parish existed at the end of the12C. In 1467, the church was fortified and surrounded by a moat. Its bell tower, dating from the 15C, once painted black. The platform of this bell tower has a parapet on crows forming machicolation that were closed during restorations and even partly reconstruction in the 19C. In the Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Church, ex-votos in the form of beautiful models of the Church ; it has a model of three-master square of war without veils. The flanks of the model are each pierced with 13 ports. The ex-voto, made on frames and dating from the mid-19C, was offered by the sailors of the “Petit Courrier de l’Ile d’Yeu” lost on the south coast of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré , facing the bell tower, in the night of December 28 to 29, 1961, in gratitude for the solidarity brought by the population. A commemorative plaque with the names of the rescued sailors is a reminder of this happy ending.

ile de re

ile de re

The current Church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption at  36 Rue de l’Église was inaugurated in 1864. With its simply bleached interior walls and exposed timbers, it shows the sobriety of a barn; but, by its imposing proportions, its large nave with three vessels, the refined decoration of its choir and its beautiful luminosity, it is not less majestic. it has kept its bell tower whose Gothic spire dates from the 14C. Serving once bitter, the view of its bell tower is exceptional.The Church Notre Dame de l’Assomption belonged to an Augustinian priory that depended on Sablonceaux. This parish had a lot to suffer from the many conflicts that took place in the region, but it was fortified.

ile de re

ile de re

ile de re

The beaches of course are great here and very much in demand, you need to book way ahead here folks.  The plage de Montamer beach is monitored. Those of Salée and Basse Bénale, in the continuity of the long strip of sand, have their faithful followers. As for Port Notre-Dame, it is located opposite the Thalassotherapy Institute. At high tide, swimming is pleasant. At low tide, the coast becomes rocky with many fish locks (there are 8 on the town). Swimming is only possible at high tide. At low tide, you can practice fishing on foot or discover the peculiarities of this rocky, sandy and muddy foreshore. Stroll among the many birds that come to feast on the seaweed. North of the town and the village of La Noue, there is a surf spot known for its waves, the spot Grenettes.

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My favorite site plages tv on the beaches here: Plages tv on the beach of Sainte Marie de Ré in English

ile de re

Some other interesting things to do and see here are the Vauban fortifications and the blockhaus of WWII.

In the 18C, Vauban decides to protect the Ile de Ré from the incessant attacks of the English … The most beautiful attraction of these fortifications, fruit of the science of the military engineers, is the quality of a landscape out of the ordinary which lends itself wonderfully to discover and to stroll on them.

The  Plage De La Salée blockhouse and free parking with beach passable at high tide. The Karola site in Ars-en-Ré, Nazis troops first invest the old French coastal batteries built in the late 19C, established in La Couarde-sur-Mer, St. Marie de Ré, St. Martin de Ré and Rivedoux-Plage. These batteries are usually composed of a large caliber Marine cannon around which they build a bunker, they can pull out to sea, with a range of several kilometers. In addition to these coastal batteries, it is a multitude of defensive points that are built on the entire island, near the beaches, on the dunes or cliffs.   It was in 1940 that the Nazis with the organization Todt built more than 35 works to defend the base of La Rochelle which sheltered the submarines: U-Boot. At Bois Plage , was the captain responsible for all the artillery of the Ïle de Ré. On the dunes, you can still find nowadays the second most important artillery position, its half-buried command post and an outside observatory, these are the positions Fanny and Herta. They could accommodate a 150 mm gun, which was scrapped at the end of the war.

Tourist info here: Tourist office of the Ïle de Ré on Ste Marie de Ré in English

And there you go another gem by the sea in my belle France, if only summers will be longer lol! Hope you enjoy the brief description of Sainte Marie de Ré and do visit, its very quant nice!

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

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6 Comments to “Île de Ré and Sainte Marie de Ré!”

  1. A lot of interesting history; thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thankyou!It is reported that my first Ancestor to arrive in Acadia,in 1671,Jean Doiron,was born around 1649 here .The Oranger sailed out of La Rochelle for Port Royale Acadie un 1671..

    Liked by 1 person

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