Sunday, 24 November 2013

Île de Ré - Part 6, the last of the La Rochelle series!

Île de Ré is a large island off the west coast of France. Its southerly neighbour is Ile d'Oleron, but Île de Ré is sited directly opposite the town of La Rochelle. The island's highest point is only 20 metres above sea level; it is 28 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide and the scenery is a mixture of salt marsh, dunes, vines and forests. A bridge about 4 kilometres long, which was built in 1987, connects the island to mainland France. Vehicles using it must pay a very expensive toll - €18 return for a car !

We only had time for a short day visit to the village of St Martin de Re, but the island deserves much more attention, as it is steeped in history. If we had more time, and had been staying overnight, the best plan would have been to cycle around the whole island and take time out to look at the various museums. There are many shops around where you can hire cycles, if you are visiting without your own bikes.

Our visit coincided with the end of school holidays, and all roads were very congested with both cars and bikes. The island location is very popular with French holidaymakers, and the pace of life is generally at slow cycling speed!

The island became English in 1154, when Alienor d'Aquitaine became queen of England, through her marriage with Henry Plantagenet. The island again became French in 1243, when Henry III of England returned it to Saint Louis. In 1360 however, with the Treaty of Bretigny, Île de Ré briefly became English again, until the 1370s, when it reverted permanently to French sovereignty.


High walls and fortifications remain as evidence of the military past. The island often came under attack from other nations during periods of warfare, of which there were many over the centuries. Thus major fortification works were undertaken to try to defend and protect the island and its citizens. Much of this work was ordered by the "Sun King" Louis XIV in the 17th century. In later times, the buildings were used for the confinement of political prisoners.

Porte des Campani -one of two entrances to the old walled city.

Its cobbled walkways and robust stonework looking now, much as it must have done when it was built over 300 years ago.

More fortifications!


Quincaillerie or typical hardware shop, seldom found in the UK any more.

 Lunch in delightful sunshine, overlooking the harbour in St Martin de Re, situated on the island's north coast. See below for the view from this terrace!

Harbour jam-packed with boats. One would have to get on the waiting list for a mooring in this very popular port!

   Some skilful boat handling required! With the eyes of the people on the crowded quays upon them, no serious manoeuvring errors could be made!


We will be in the UK for the month of December staying with my 92 year old FIL.  I will pop in when I have time to look at your posts, and if possible I will try to catch up on some posts we should have done during the year!!

I will try to keep the photo diary up to to date if possible during this period.

63 comments:

  1. i love the bike on the side of the building. such a beautiful place! have a great december and a merry christmas!

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    1. Thank you, you have a great Christmas and New Year as well. Keep warm, Diane

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  2. We've never visited but your photographs and some that Susan and Simon posted have given whetted our appetites. It looks a beautiful place to visit out of the peak holiday times.

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    1. Gaynor it is a lovely place to visit, but one day is just not enough to take it all in. A 3 day trip would be perfect so you have the day in the middle to go where you like with out the worry of driving home the same day.Have a great week Diane

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  3. I have never visited lie de Re but have been to Ile d'Yeu few time and I loved it. Really, really, really love that island! Beautiful beaches and a great "tarte aux pruneaux". I hope it hasn't changed too much.

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    1. Nadege a place where we would like to go some time, it is on our list! The tarte aux pruneaux is a great recommendation :-) have a good week. Diane

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  4. A friend used to go there for picking up 'wild' oysters and took us there a couple of times....wonderful days out!

    I can't remember if this is the place where the donkeys wear trousers....but I do know that property prices are sky high from all the Parisian holiday homes there.
    Still, Parisian owned or not, the narrow streets with hollyhocks and valerian lining the wallls are just lovely.

    Have a good time in the U.K. - and try to keep warm.

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    1. Fly I do not know about the donkeys, but yes prices are very high, the Parisians love this place and have many holiday homes there. Certainly out of our league!!

      Will try to keep warm, UK is not our favourite place to travel but it will be good for Nigel to catch up with his family while he can.

      Take care the two of you and have a good week , Diane

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  5. An amazing place and lots of history. The harbour and marina sure are full of people. Looks like a fantastic place to visit.

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    1. Horst the whole area has much to offer, we were only there a short time and there was so much more to see. Hope that you are well Diane

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  6. I am so impressed by the stonework. Not a skill you see used much anymore, at least here in the states. In fact I'm pretty sure most of today's construction won't last 300 years. Have a wonderful holiday.

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    1. Gaelyn Europe has the most amazing ancient buildings and with a bit of restoration have stood the test of time for many 100's of years. I agree that building built nowadays will never last the same despite have a lot more knowledge. They were built properly in the old days with stone. Thanks we will try to enjoy chilly England :-) Diane

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  7. Beautiful are your photos!
    Greetings from Holland.

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    1. Many thanks for the visit and comment. Keep well Diane

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  8. Gosh it is so long since I have been here. I must go back and catch up. (Been baby sitting in LA) This island sure has a colourful history.

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    1. diane I have not been good about visiting so it is a two way thing. We seem to have had a lot on. I thought winter would be quieter but now we will be away for a month so.... Hope all is well with you and the family, take care Diane

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  9. I love the hardware stores in France, it fascinates what you can find in them, such a shame we don't have them any more. Thanks for sharing. xx

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    1. Karen I have to agree with you there, nothing better than rummaging through a real hardware shop. They are not so easy to find here any more either but when you do you have a real gem. Have a good week Diane

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  10. What a beautiful part of the world you live in... found you via Muppy's blog. Will be following with interest. : )

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    1. Thanks Bizzy Lizzy for your comment, glad to have you on board. Have a good day, Diane

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  11. Lovely place and I enjoyed learning a bit of its history. Thanks so much and happy travels over the holidays.

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    1. Thanks Denise for the kind comment and the good wishes, much appreciated. Have a good day, Diane

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  12. What a lovely but crowded harbour. It must be very popular. I bet it takes some skill to get in and out of a slip there, especially if there is the least bit of wind.
    Sam

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    1. Sam I have never tried sailing a yacht but I am sure I would never cop with a busy harbour like that!! Have a good week. Diane

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  13. What a beautiful area. Have a nice trip to the UK - I hope you enjoy the holidays.

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    1. Thanks Pam, we are a bit worried about the weather but what will be will be I guess. Take care Diane

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  14. Lovely tour, as always! Hope you have a good holiday in the UK.

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    1. Vera thanks for the good wishes, I only hope that we do not get snowed in and we can get back before new Year!!!! Take care and have a good week. Diane

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  15. I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts on this lovely region of France, thanks for sharing your trip so comprehensively.

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    1. Thanks Linda for taking the time out to visit and pass a comment. Wish we were a little closer over December, so near and yet so far!! Take care and look after yourself. Diane

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  16. I would love to go there , even if I did have to pay 18 Euro return to get to the island .. I also love the hardware stores, always something we have not seen before .. Have a safe journey back to Devises and keep warm too xx take care Anne

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    1. Thanks Anne, the weather reports are not brilliant but we just hope the roads are clear of ice or snow both going and on out return!! Take care and have a good week. Diane xoxo

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  17. I have heard so much about la Rochelle, now I know what it looks like!

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    1. Thank you for your comment, certainly a good place to visit. Have a great week/weekend Diane

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  18. You make an excellent tourguide Diane, merci beaucoup. It never ceases to amaze me the age of some of the European structures, that look the same today as they did hundreds of years ago. Have a wonderful December with your family, tak care.

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    1. Thanks for the kind comment. I have to agree re the the old buildings, it is amazing how they have survived, today's building will not look so good in 100's of years I am sure! Keep well Diane

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  19. I have enjoyed following along on your series...I know it was a lovely holiday. Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen, it was a great birthday present, I have a very thoughtful husband. Keep well Diane

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  20. Sometimes the best way to enjoy life is at a slow cycling speed!

    Take care.

    velva

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    1. Velva one certainly sees a lot more on a bicycle than in a car that is for sure! Have a good weekend Diane

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  21. Thank you for the beautiful places you show us, many of them I've never even heard of.

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    1. Thanks JM, It is good that I can come up with places you have not heard of as you are well travelled :-) Have a good weekend Diane.

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  22. I enjoyed your photo essay, as usual. I've wanted to visit the La Rochelle area but wasn't sure there was much to see there. Your posts have settled that issue for me. This island, which I'd not previously heard of, looks like a lovely place to spend a day.

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    1. Bill I am pleased you have enjoyed these posts. We had a great time there but my husband planned the trip well ahead and all was well organised. Have a good day Diane

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  23. Hi Diane .. I'd love to visit this island .. especially as the pace of life and cycling is slow! Gorgeous photos giving us an inkling of what it looks like - the Eleanor of Aquitaine era is a fascinating time .. but history with its constant changes of ownership is challenging at times and that era - definitely so.

    Loved looking at this - have a happy December with your FIL .. I hope peaceful and that you're able to see other family members and old friends ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary I was sorry that we only had a short trip there, I would love to spend a few days there with our bikes.

      We are staying with my FIL and Nigel's sister arrives from Ozz just before Christmas day so there will be 4 of us for Christmas lunch. We are hoping to meet up with a few friends from Oxford at some stage, but the time is supposed to be with quality time with FIL. Have a good Christmas as I may not get to post before Christmas. Depends on time! Take care Diane

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  24. You advertise France so well, that the number of tourists must have increased a lot.
    Looks nice where you are!:)

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    1. Gunn you make me laugh, wish I was that good that I could increase the tourist industry :-) We do live in a lovely area just wish we did not have to have winter!! Take care Diane

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  25. I've really got to get myself onto the Île de Ré if I get the chance to come back that way again. (I'll make sure that I save up enough money first to get across the bridge). One thing puzzles me, though: I'm sure that I was told that everyone on the Île de Ré was famous. I expected at least one picture of a film star.

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    1. Ha ha we did not see too many film stars floating around. It is a great place for a break though I would go just out of season when it is a little quieter. Have a good day Diane

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  26. Hello Diane!
    Sorry I am a poor blogger these days!!
    I have had a look at your latest posts, this west coast is magic, especially seen through your eyes!!
    I love these islands!
    Cheers keep well and warm!

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    1. That makes two of us! I just have not the time to visit like I used to!! Have a good day will visit when I can. :-) Diane

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  27. Many thanks for posting this, It?s simply what I was researching for on bing. I?d rather a lot relatively hear opinions from a person, barely than an organization internet web page, that?s why I like blogs so significantly. Many thanks!

    Cccam Server

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    1. I could not agree more a personal recommendation is so much better than a company selling it. Thanks for the visit and the kind comment. Diane

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  28. I have enjoyed your posts on La Rochelle. We also went there for a week and thoroughly enjoyed it. You did see some sites we did not – like churches for example (we are not church goers like most Parisians and forget to go – a shame since some are pretty.) We have never been to l’Ile du Ré, so it was great looking at your pictures, which are very good. It also looked like you had good weather. Here today it has been 76 degrees F (25 C) which is too warm for me in December – I hope we’ll get some cool weather soon.

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    1. Vagabonde I am so jealous of your 25C, can we swap, we hate the cold? We are not church goers either but we love the buildings and the architecture of the old buildings so I seldom miss them. Some as in Reims particularly are very very beautiful. Have a good Christmas, Diane

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  29. I hope you find all is well back in England. Have a good visit. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Thanks Mary all is well here but we are already looking forward to getting back to our warm home in France and our own bed :-)) Take care and have a great Christmas. Diane

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  30. Indeed a lovely place to have lunch Diane. Little places like this are always delightful.

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    1. Joan I am sorry that our time was limited there, so much we missed! Daine

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  31. It was lovely to see your photos of this charming place. I hope you are enjoying your time in England. It's great you are with your FIL to make his Christmas more cheerful! Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thanks Joyful, I am glad the my FIL has company for several weeks but oh how we do miss home :-) Hope you have a great Christmas as well Diane.

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  32. Wow another renaissance beauty that I am afraid I will never get to visit, thanks to you I get to see it virtually!

    Have a merry Christmas Diane!

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