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Culture and heritage in Sainte-Marie-de-Ré

Saint-Marie-de-Ré Church by Lesley Williamson

Culture and heritage in Sainte-Marie-de-Ré

When you cross the bridge onto the Ile de Ré, turn left at the first roundabout and discover the agricultural past of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré. Viniculture was, and still is, one of main economic activities on the area. There are beautifully preserved 16th-century copper stills in a winery. Meanwhile, the recently restored miller's house will take you back in time to the 18th century, an age when milling formed a key part of the Sainte-Marie-de-Ré economy. When you walk around Sainte-Marie-de-Ré, you'll see beautiful dry stone walls and old wells, where the locals once gathered. 

On the rugged coast, the sluices were not only fish traps to feed the Sainte-Marie-de-Ré locals, but also defences against the sea. They have very vivid names: La Paillarde (Bawdy), La Vasouze, La Jalousie (Jealousy)… You can visit them if you book in advance. The church, a listed historical monument, and two charming chapels are testament to the importance of religion on the Ile de Ré. At the start of the 19th century, Louis Bonnin was the village architect. He designed the town hall and the old school of La Noue, two buildings of significant architectural interest.