Ile-de-Ré is an island just 3 kilometres off the coast, to the north-west of La Rochelle, in the Charente-Maritime. Since 1988 it has been connected by an impressive bridge to the mainland.
This cycling-friendly island boasts a sunshine record to rival that of the Côte d'Azur and a natural environment that is unique in France. Its flat countryside reveals beautiful expanses of open land where salt marshes, forests, dunes and the shore merge, unleashing the aromas of the Atlantic.
This long narrow island, with its 70 kilometres of beaches has ten charming villages, set among the vineyards and fields, all with traditional-style housing, recognisable by their pretty blue shutters.
Dating from the XIIth to the fifteenth century, the Lantern Tower on La Rochelle's Old Port has a long history behind it. In the Middle Ages, the tower monitored and disarmed the boats entering the port, serving as a hub for keeping watch and guiding the boats with its lighthouse.
In the sixteenth century, the Lantern Tower was first used as a prison for priests, later on for Vendeans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and for the English from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
It is the oldest lighthouse on the coastline.
Flanked by the two famous towers, the Chain and the Saint-Nicolas towers, the old port of La Rochelle has been situated at the end of a narrow inlet since the 13th century . Fortified from its installation, the port has survived the destruction of the city walls and has kept its towers as monumental remains.
Built during the
14th and 15th centuries, these towers have survived the conflicts which took place within the town, particularly in 1628 . On each side of the port, the two towers face each other.
In the early 50s, Yvonne and Léon Gallet founded a company which would provide for a large part of the island's population for roughly 40 years. The Île d'Aix is the, therefore, the only place in France where the profession of mother of pearl craftsman is practised. In order to pay homage to the family business and the island expertise on working with mother of pearl, Hervé Gallet opened this museum in 2005.
Discover his original scenography and his beautiful items.
With a surface area of 174km², this is the largest French island after Corsica.
Thanks to a sunny climate the island is known as Oléron the bright, with its geographical situation - it is the southernmost island of all the Atlantic iles - giving it a more mid-atlantic climate.
More than 20,000 people live on the island which is linked to the mainland by a road bridge, constructed in 1966.
The island is made up of eight villages, including Saint-Pierre d'Oléron and Château d'Oléron. The landscape is varied, with sand dunes, marshes and forests, and you can easily catch a glimpse of the famous Fort-Boyard.