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From 1681, Vauban was to design a fortified complex for the town of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, in order to protect the inhabitants from any enemy invasion. He designed a perfect square, accessed by a single gateway overlooking the port.
This perimeter was to house 1200 men. It still features a chapel, a barracks, the officer's pavilion, the arsenal, and the underground bastions.
An example of Vauban's first system, this small island, along with 11 other Vauban complexes, was classed as a Unesco world heritage site in 2008.
Saint-Martin-de-Ré is the location of the only museum on the island, the Ernest Cognacq Museum in Hotel de Clerjotte. The museum is named for the founder of the Samaritans. In 1906, he acquired the collection of rare or unusual natural history, archives and antiques collected by the islander, Theodore Phelippot.
Visitors can discover this collection, as well as pieces from the collection at the National Marine Museum, which constitutes the permanent exhibition composed of paintings, ceramics or map fragments.
The Museum regularly organises temporary exhibitions on various themes. Come discover the exhibition currently on show!
Sheltered from the gulf stream, cradled in the mild Atlantic, the fruit of the vines of Ile de Ré ripens slowly in the sun.
Quality produce coming from a characterful terroir and several hundred years of expertise await you in the cellar of Les Vignerons de l'Ile de Ré. There you will find:
- local white, rosé and red wines
- white and rosé sparkling wines
- white and rosé pineaux
and Cognacs with delicate aromas.
In addition, a visit to the wine warehouse is possible in summer. You can also enjoy a tasting session.
From the eco-museum of Loix to Pointe de Grouin, you can ride along the ribbon-like cycle paths as you make your way between sea and marshes and discover the work of the salt workers.
At the end of the peninsula, the cove-shaped beach, with its small fort watching over, coils around the Point du Grouin. Follow the ballet of the birds: Egrets, herons ... right up to the Port of Loix and discover the last tidal mill on the l'Ile de Ré flanked by its delicate wooden footbridge.
In the twelfth century, the Châteliers Abbey, founded by Cistercian monks, was instrumental in Ile de Ré's development. Later, the French Wars of Religion caused extensive damage, from which the abbey was unable to recover.
These days visitors can admire the monument's ruins and still get a sense of the former grandeur of Châteliers Abbey. A guided tour is organised by the Maison du Platin, with the monument's ruins and vestiges preserved in this museum, gathered during excavations on the site.
A visit to the abbey makes for a great family outing with a fun tour designed as a game for the kids.