ILE DE RE HERITAGE
In 2012, Ile de Ré was the first island to obtain the status Pays d’Art et d’Histoire, thanks to its exceptional heritage.
Here are some of the most notable and accessible monuments and sites amongst the many hidden treasures to discover, especially on Heritage days.
The St-Martin-de-Ré fortifications
The fortifications make up part of the network of Vauban’s major sites, which became UNESCO world heritage sites in 2008. This is the best example of an island reduit and perfectly illustrates the system of defence invented and erected under Vauban.
Phare des Baleines (Whale lighthouse) and the old tower
The Phare des Baleines is the tallest lighthouse in France at a height of 57 metres. It was inaugurated in 1954 and offers exceptional views over Ile de Ré and the ocean, once you’ve climbed the 257 steps!
At the foot of the lighthouse, the Vieille Tour (old tower) erected by Vauban is classed as a historic monument.
The abbey was built by the monks in the 1100s. It has seen many attacks, notably assaults by the English who ransacked its stones to build the Fort de la Prée.
The tidal fisheries
The tidal fisheries are true witnesses to Ile de Ré tradition. These fish traps, which work with the tides, were indispensable for the fisherman of olden times.
The bell tower of Ars-en-Ré
This is eye-catching even from a distance thanks to its distinctive shape and black and white paint. That’s the point – the Ars-en-Ré bell tower is used as a reference point for boats. It’s called a daymark.
The bell tower of Saint-Martin-de-Ré
To see Vauban’s star, and observe the fortifications in detail, you should climb to the top of the St-Martin church bell tower, which itself has borne witness to religious wars.
In the summer, the bell tower observatory offers a fabulous view, particularly at sunset.