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.
The three towers have guarded over the entrance to the old port in La Rochelle since the 12th and 15th centuries. They are the vestiges of the fortifications of the city of La Rochelle. As well as being an important lookout and lighthouse, an important navigational reference point for ships on this part of the coast, the Tour de la lanterne or Lantern Tower also served as a prison for many years. You can see the ancient graffiti that bears witness to this, a testimony to those who were incarcerated here.
The La tour de la Chaîne owes its name to the chain which ran from here to the Tour Saint-Nicolas to block off the entrance of the port. The tour Saint-Nicolas shifted during construction, leaning slightly eastwards. Once straightened, it served as a prison and royal logis. It bears witness to the city's historical power. The site is now a national monument.
Fort Liédot was built during the reign of Napoleon I, at the start of the 19thth century. Hidden in the middle of the forest, this enormous building measures no less than 8 100 metres squared.
In the past it was a site dedicated to defending the territory, but the fort is now open to the public for part of the year. In addition to the structure itself, you can also discover, with a guide, the different exhibitions which can take place there.