« My occupation is fulfilling and enables me to work in an exceptional natural setting »
An oyster farmer at La Couarde for 34 years, Jean-François Beynaud tells us about his adopted home with the enthusiasm and sincerity typical of its inhabitants.
What is your personal attachment to Ile de Ré ?
I arrived on Ile de Ré when I was 10 years old and I started working as an oyster farmer with my parents when I was 16. My partner, who comes from the island, has now been working with me for 20 years, and our daughter, who is 20, has also joined us, making her the third generation to enjoy the exceptional and natural setting that the island offers for practising our profession! The attachment I feel to the island has not dissipated over time and I love the natural landscape, particularly the marshes, which have allowed me to flourish in my trade. I have spent most of my life on Ile de Ré ever since my childhood, all of my friends live here, and I still enjoy living here today.
Do you have a favourite time of the year, and what are your favourite activities on Ile de Ré ?
I really like the autumn and the winter, when the colours of the sunrises and sunsets are exceptionally beautiful; I also love the smell of the autumn, when the island becomes peaceful again after the summer. I like riding my bike, strolling in the woods and around the marshes and enjoying an aperitif with my friends.
Is there a magical place on Ré that you won't find anywhere else ?
I really like to visit the Conche des Baleines bay, to explore the old military bunkers and to walk to the end of the island to the "Canot de Sauvetage" passage where, in the old days, the village farmers would rescue boats in distress.
How would you describe Ile de Ré in just a few words ?
The island isn't just holiday resort with its beaches and harbours; it is also a place with a superb heritage whose inhabitants have shaped its soul, particularly its farmers and fishermen.