A fishing port on the north of the French island of Ré, with stone quays and ubiquituous white houses, the village of Saint Martin was built in the 18th Century by the military engineer Vauban. Surrounded by Vauban fortifications and thus recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Saint Martin de Ré is one of the most beautiful towns on the Atlantic coast of France and the biggest town on the Island of Ré. Everything in Saint Martin is historic, it has retained almost all of its original walls and buildings and evidence of the numerous fierce naval battles fought here, remains.
The island is connected to La Rochelle by a 3km long toll bridge constructed in 1988. The rate for the toll bridge is €8 from 12th September – 19th June, and €16 from 20th June to 11th September – round trip. This is an eco-tax which means that when you pay at the bridge toll you take part in the preservation of natural areas that represent all the charm of Île de Ré.
The cycle paths will allow you to discover wonderful sanctuaries of green open space and golden-hued sandy beaches. The woods are perfect for horse-riding and the marshlands reveal the activities of salt workers and oyster-farmers who are protectors to the huge numbers of migratory birds who flock to this region.
There is a fantastic farmers indoor market (mornings) and grocery store down by the harbour, just minutes on foot from the house.
Grocery Store opening times:
Mon, Tues, Thur, Fri:
9-1 and 4.30-7.30
Wed, Sat, Sun: 9-1
There are also several other large supermarkets on the outskirts of Saint Martin.
You are just minutes on foot from the quayside of Saint Martin harbour with plenty cafes, restaurants, antique stores and boutiques. We recommend you try Le Bistro Marin. Great Côte de Boeuf and fresh seafood, and the wines are excellent. We have a list of other restaurants in our owners manual at the house for inspiration.
You can hire bikes locally for approximately €35 per week. There is a ring outside the house for which bikes are to be secured to.
1.5km to Saint Martin’s small sandy, crescent-shaped beach. The island has the most beautiful sandy beaches which are easily accessible by bike or by car. For a bigger sandier beach go to Gros Janc beach which is about 15 minutes by bike.
From the top of the belltower at the church of Saint Martin, you will discover superb views over the town and the island, go at sunset.