Saint Martin de Ré
10 minutes from our hotel
The citadel, a grand ensemble of fortifications built at the end of the 17th century by Louis XIV’s military architect Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban; the port protected by ramparts, now a hotspot lined with numerous restaurants, lively terraces, and bistros; the Clocher Observatoire providing a unique panorama over the fortified town – all these can be found in Saint-Martin-de-Ré, a uniquely charming village that is also the island’s historic capital.
This charming little town with peaceful and narrow paved streets has managed to preserve the classical aspect of the reign of Louis XIV. Controlled by a lock, the wet dock surrounds the old sailors’ quarter, now lined with shops, forming a sort of island at the centre of the port. Wandering up to the upper part, you’ll discover the timber-framed houses of the 17th century in Place Anatole-France, or those in the Place de la Vinatière dating back to the 16th century.
A jewel of the Île de Ré, Saint-Martin also boasts a superb church with an eventful history overlooking the small town. To the right are the ruins of its old Gothic parts, while to the left lies its Clocher Observatoire (observatory bell tower), with its terrace open to the public. Climb the hundred or so steps of this tower and experience a superb panoramic vista of Saint-Martin and the sea. You’ll also have the chance to discover the three imposing bells installed within this square bell tower.
Saint-Martin-de-Ré is a lively village both in the day and at night. The tourist office offers a range of itineraries for discovery. In the Parc de la Barbette, the island's famous donkeys in trousers are sure to delight young and old alike. Meanwhile, at the Musée Ernest Cognacq (a museum named after the island native who founded the Parisian department store La Samaritaine), discover the passionate history of the Île de Ré. After this, you’ll have seen Saint-Martin in all its glory!