The most striking events of the history of Île de Ré took place in the 12th century with the conflicts not only between Catholics and Protestants, but also between England and France. We should go back to 1625 when, under the reign of Louis XIII, the Protestants took possession of the island. Two years later, in 1627, Cardinal de Richelieu, an intransigent Catholic, decided to lay siege to La Rochelle with the support of the King of England. Duke of Buckingham therefore settled in Île de Ré but the island did not intend to remain passive…
The first fortification built by Vauban is La Redoute de Rivedoux and you can view a few vestiges in front of you.
The tour also provides the opportunity to discover places to visit. However, some may be closed depending on the periods, opening dates and times.
Head to Saint-Martin de Ré
Louis XIV and Vauban carried on the defense of Île de Ré. In 1681, the architect constructed one of the largest defensive structures of that time…
Now head to Saint-Martin de Ré by following the cycle paths along the seaside and through the forest!
At the gateway to the fortified city
You are now entering the heart of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, a very charming fortified city! Enjoy walking and wandering around the historic centre designed and constructed by the architect Vauban.
Le Clocher Observatoire de St Martin
Saint-Martin seen from above
Now take your time and relax! Sit outside, and have a drink at a café or a meal at a restaurant.
Les Fortifications Vauban
In 1681, Saint-Martin was an incredible defensive fortress designed to protect the 16,000 islanders in the event of an attack by enemy forces. The surrounding wall is consequently huge: these are immense star-shaped ramparts 14km long. A citadel that has been converted into a prison since the 19th century was also built to the north-east to accommodate a garrison of 1,500 men. However enemy forces had never attacked the fortified city… This stronghold is one of the 160 fortresses built or renovated by Vauban during his fifty years’ career at the service of the kingdom. In 1925 the building was listed as a historic monument. The ramparts of Saint-Martin-de-Ré join ‘Réseau des Sites Majeurs de Vauban’ (Network of Vauban’s Major Sites) and are now inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an exceptional and universal cultural site.
Head to the ‘Phare des Baleines’
You are leaving one of the most important “masterpieces” built by the architect Vauban…
For the more energetic, continue until you reach the end of the island. You will discover a place not to be missed: ‘Phare des Baleines’. This was the first tower built by Vauban…
You need to make a stop at the salt marshes!
You are coming to the heart of the salt marshes! Take advantage of a stop to view the spectacular landscape!
If you have the opportunity to do another sightseeing tour, don’t hesitate to discover the Ecomuseum of Salt Marshes which helps you understand how salt is produced (subject to opening dates and times). Contact: 05 46 29 06 77.
You can also make a detour and sample oysters and seafood at a local producer.
Now, let’s set out for the ‘Phare des Baleines’.