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Travel Guide Ile de Ré Get to know Ile de Ré

Saint Martin de Re

The commune of Saint-Martin-de-re is a small town, located on the north coast of the Ré island. It currently has some 2,500 inhabitants and welcomes every year tens of thousands of visitors, who come to admire the fortifications built by Vauban, engineer of Louis XIV.

Saint-Martin is rich in history and has been the scene of major conflicts that have opposed French and English, Catholic and Protestant. In the 17th century, the city was torn from Catholic hands by the Protestants of La Rochelle led by Jean Guiton before triumphing over the British a few years later in an epic naval battle.

These various battles prompted the Sun King to reinforce the defenses of the Ré island and it was during his reign that he commissioned his best engineer Vauban to build the ramparts surrounding the citadel of Saint Martin. These fortifications are currently the pride of the city and the citadel is one of the places that attract the most visitors.

Saint-Martin is also a center of contemporary art. Indeed, between June and September, several artists, including painters come to create and exhibit their works there. During this period, every Thursday, the square of the Saint-Martin church hosts many amateur and professional painters.

The port is one of the must-see places of Saint-Martin-de-Ré. It hosts every day hundreds of pleasure and fishing boats. In summer, thousands of tourists pace the harbor docks and frequent the restaurants and other establishments there.

The other peculiarity of Saint-Martin is the fact that it is the only commune of the Ré island that has a hospital center. The local Saint-Honoré hospital has a capacity of 190 beds and treats mainly the elderly.