« My donkeys have become the mascot of Ile de Ré ! »
Régis Léau is well known among the local Rétais people and holidaymakers for the donkey rides he offers to children at Barbette park in Saint-Martin-de-Ré. In addition to his tourist services, however, he breeds and rears Poitou donkeys and is a producer of the donkey milk which is used in soap-making. It is because of Régis that the donkey has become a mascot of Ile de Ré, of which he is very proud.
What is your personal attachment to Ile de Ré ?
I arrived on Ile de Ré when I was just 9 months old, and apart from my student days in Poitiers, I've lived here ever since. I took over from my father in 1998 and I’ve developed our business quite a bit since then. Even though it can be hard work, I have a job that is valued and recognised by people.
Do you have a favourite time of the year, and what are your favourite activities on Ile de Ré ?
I really like the spring, when the island's nature starts to come alive again. It’s also the season of the foaling and the harvests, and the island is still quiet and peaceful.
Is there a magical place on Ré that you won't find anywhere else ?
The fortifications of Vauban, which is where I work. There’s nothing better than visiting the fortifications and meeting my animals! I also find the sea reassuring, and even though I don't have much time to enjoy it, its presence brings me peace of mind.
How would you describe Ile de Ré in just a few words ?
“A golden island” – not only because it is so well preserved and protected, but also because of its coastline, which is “select”!
The atmosphere on the island is also excellent and I find that there is a sense of solidarity between the people here.