Tourism in Saint-Martin-de-Ré
On the north coast of the island, Saint-Martin-de-Ré is considered to be the historic capital of the Rhaeto-Rhaeto-Rhône region and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Charente Maritime.
Its fortified ramparts and its port, which has been inhabited since the Middle Ages, make it a must-see destination during your stay on the island. Many remarkable buildings in the town bear witness to the long history of Saint-Martin-de-Ré: medieval half-timbered houses, but also Renaissance-style private mansions and beautiful 18th-century bourgeois homes. If you spend your holiday in a hotel near Saint-Martin-de-Ré, don’t miss the Vauban citadel: this military city built in the 17th century under Louis XIV was intended to shelter all the inhabitants of the island in case of attack. The walls are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A must-see during your stay in Saint-Martin is the climb to the top of the bell tower-observatory, which offers a unique view of the town, its ramparts and the ocean. Another must-see is the Ernest Cognacq museum, the ideal place to discover the history and traditions of the island of Ré. It houses archaeological collections, as well as tools, clothing and everyday accessories, ceramics and works of art. You can learn a lot about the history of Saint-Martin as the antechamber of the overseas prisons. Among the emblematic tourist attractions of Saint-Martin-de-Ré are the friendly donkeys in breeches, to be discovered in the Barbette park.
What to do in Saint-Martin-de-Ré?
Saint-Martin-de-Ré is one of the ten villages that make up the Ile de Ré. The village is known, among other things, for its marina and its ramparts; it is also appreciated for its narrow streets which offer a peaceful setting for walks with family or friends. You can also cycle along the fine sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast and along the salt marshes of the Charente Maritime department in Poitou Charentes.
The Marquis de Vauban used the plans drawn up by the engineer Ferry as a basis for publishing the “instructions on the fortifications of Saint-Martin” in 1681. The ramparts were built between 1681 and 1691. Today, they are one of the must-see sites for French memorial tourism, especially as their walls have remained almost unchanged.
- The Citadel
An integral part of the ramparts, the Citadelle housed the garrisons stationed on the Ile de Ré in the 17th century, before becoming a prison in 1873.
- The port
The harbour is a highlight of the village centre and is protected at the entrance by the ramparts and a dyke. It has more than 260 berths, of which about 50 are reserved for visiting yachtsmen.
- The beach
The beach on the Atlantic Ocean is a place of relaxation for the whole family. Children will be delighted to go for a walk in the Barbette park, in the company of donkeys in knickers, the real mascots of the Ile de Ré. The beach is also close to a miniature golf course, merry-go-rounds and numerous attractions for youngsters.
In Saint-Martin-de-Ré you can find different restaurants for all tastes and budgets.
This is one of the best places on the Ile de Ré to eat seafood or fish.
- Single menu at 32 €.
- Adress: 6, rue Chay-Morin.
O Parloir features French cuisine, serving various seafood products such as oysters and sardine rillettes.
- Menus : 29.80 à 38.90 €
- Card : around €22
- Adress: 20, cours Vauban.
The restaurant also serves fish and seafood, including oysters, clams, almonds and whelks.
- Fine oysters from Ré : 10 à 29 €
- Tasting tray for 2 people : 19 à 29 €
- Adress: 16, quai Job-Foran.
Ben-Hur Char à Huîtres
The restaurant serves oysters, scampi and shrimp, among other things.
- Oysters: 8.50 to 16.50 € per dozen
- Home-made mayo whelks: 7.50 €.
- Squid with chorizo: €11.50
- Adress: Parc de la Barbette.
The Cible beach is a popular place to relax for many families visiting Saint-Martin-de-Ré, especially as lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, from 1 July to 31 August. Located two or three blocks from the village centre, it has cabins for hire. After swimming, holidaymakers can also cool off on the terrace of the beach restaurant.
The Tourist Office assures that this surveillance is targeted, the aim being to anticipate and inform holidaymakers “in real time about the slightest risks of pollution”. The organisation also guarantees the quality of the bathing water throughout the year.