Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this monastery, founded in 1047 by Geoffroy Martel and his wife, Agnès de Bourgogne was the first convent in Saintonge. It was regarded with prestige up until the Revolution when the Benedictines were forced out.
Only the Notre-Dame Church from the 11th and 12th Centuries survived. The arched portal and the steeple columns represent magnificent examples of Saintonge Romanesque art.
The Abbey is now a member of the prestigious Cultural Centre Group which organises the Saintes Festival in July.
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.
Inaugurated under the reign of Tiberius, the construction work on the amphitheatre was only completed under the reign of Claudius around 40 A.D. It is characterised by a cavea (collection of stands) based on the hillside of the valley and on an embankment to the west. To the east, the completely bricked up structures seal the valley. Designed to accommodate blood sports very popular with the Roman population, the amphitheatre has impressive dimensions, measuring 126 metres long by 102 metres wide. Over 15,000 spectators could sit in its stands.
The Cercle nautique de l'île d'Aix is a set of various water sports to have fun. Paddle, sailing, optimist and catamaran for the young ones, come as a family and practice one of the various leisure activities, as an individual session or part of a course.
Le cercle nautique also offers a day-care service for boat owners, which means trailers do not have to be used.
In 1780, the Marquis de La Fayette left Rochefort to bring reinforcements overseas to the troops fighting for American independence. The journey was swift on board the Hermione, crossing the Atlantic in 38 days. The Hermione was a light but sleek frigate with its 26 canons, a ship which nevertheless measured 44 metres in length and 11 in width.
A local association, Hermione-La Fayette, has since 1997 been working on the construction of a near-perfect replica of the historic ship (with only a few modifications to respect modern day regulations). The Chantier de l'Hermione, the specially-made shipyard, was designed to accomplish this highly-technical undertaking, but also to accommodate visitors who wish to learn about the project.
Once finished, the Hermione will be sailing off to new adventures on the high seas, or docked in harbours on both sides of the Atlantic.