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Île de Ré

Île de Ré
Satellite photo of Île de Ré
Île de Ré is located in France
Île de Ré
Île de Ré (France)
Location Atlantic Ocean
Area 85 km2 (33 sq mi)
Length 30 km (19 mi)
Width 5 km (3.1 mi)
Highest elevation 20 m (70 ft)
Highest point Peu des Aumonts
Region Poitou-Charentes
Department Charente-Maritime
Arrondissement La Rochelle
Largest city La Flotte
Population 15,000 (as of 1999)
Density 176.47 /km2 (457.06 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups French people
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Fortifications of Vauban
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria (i)(ii)(iv)
Reference 1283
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2008 (32nd Session)

Île de Ré (pronounced: ; variously spelled Rhé, Rhéa or Rhea; in English Isle of Rhé) is an island off the west coast of France near La Rochelle, on the northern side of the Pertuis d'Antioche strait.

Île de Ré

The island's highest point has an elevation of 20 metres (66 feet); the island is 30 kilometres (19 miles) long and 5 kilometres (3 miles) wide. The 2.9 km (1.8 mi) Île de Ré bridge, completed in 1988, connects it to La Rochelle on the mainland.


  • Administration 1
  • History 2
    • Capture of Ré island (1625) 2.1
    • Siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré (1627) 2.2
    • Later history 2.3
    • Connection to the mainland 2.4
  • Life on the island 3
  • Miscellaneous 4
  • Sport 5
  • Media 6
  • See also 7
  • Gallery 8
  • References 9
  • Sources 10
  • External links 11


Administratively, the island is part of the Charente-Maritime département, in the Poitou-Charentes région. The island is also a part of the Charente-Maritime's 1st constituency.

Located in the arrondissement of La Rochelle, Île de Ré includes two cantons: Saint-Martin-de-Ré eastwards and Ars-en-Ré westwards. The island is divided into 10 communes, from East to West: Rivedoux-Plage, La Flotte, Sainte-Marie-de-Ré, Saint-Martin-de-Ré, Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré, La Couarde-sur-Mer, Loix, Ars-en-Ré, Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, Les Portes-en-Ré.


During Roman times, Île de Ré was an archipelago consisting of three small islands. The space between the islands was progressively filled by a combination of human activity (salt fields gained from the sea) and siltage.

In the seventh and eighth centuries the island, along with Oléron, formed the Vacetae Insulae or Vacetian Islands, according to the Cosmographia.[1] Since Vaceti is another name for the Vascones, this reference is evidence of Basque (Gascon) settlement or control of the islands by that date. In 745, Hunald the Duke of Aquitaine retired to a monastery on the island.

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

Capture of Ré island (1625)

In February 1625, the Protestant

  • Tourist information (French), (Spanish), (Italian), (German), (English)
  • Tourist information (2)
  • History of the island (French)
  • valuable information on ile de re (English)
  • Google image
  • Île de Ré photography

External links

  • Collins, Roger. "The Vaccaei, the Vaceti, and the rise of Vasconia." Studia Historica VI. Salamanca, 1988. Reprinted in Roger Collins, Law, Culture and Regionalism in Early Medieval Spain. Variorum, 1992. ISBN 0-86078-308-1.


  1. ^ Collins, 214.
  2. ^ Holt, Mack P. (2005). "The French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629". History. p. xiii. 
  3. ^ a b c Penny cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. p. 268. 
  4. ^ Sturdy, David J. Fractured Europe, 1600-1721. p. 127. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  5. ^ Bouygues website: Île de Ré Bridge
  6. ^ "Sydney Morning Herald article: Kiwi man accused of cat torture in France". 2012-05-19. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 



See also

Ré à la Hune : free information newspaper founded in 2007 and web site.



Panoramic view of Ile de Ré from the continent (in La Pointe du Chay). The bridge linking the island to the continent is visible at the extreme right.

Nearby Fort Boyard, an ancient maritime fort, is currently used for a television game show series of the same name.


Oysters and fresh fish are always available. There is also a tradition in which the fishermen, upon returning from the sea, sell a small quantity of their catch directly on the quays, enabling them to buy a drink. Markets are open on a daily basis in the main towns and are a popular place to shop, taste and chat. Even the vendors in the markets come to the island on their holidays. Generally, they work only in the mornings, enabling them to enjoy the remainder of the day. A large variety of items can be bought at the market, such as comics, books, African articles, ceramics, clothes, artifacts, food, local specialities, tools and souvenirs.

As a famous holiday resort on the Atlantic coast, the island has its fair share of celebrities, past and present. Among others, Jean Monnet, the father of European Unity, singers Charles Aznavour and Claude Nougaro, actors Bernard Giraudeau and Claude Rich, actress Carole Bouquet, writer Philippe Sollers or Princess Caroline of Monaco used to or still spend their holidays there. Lionel Jospin, who was Prime Minister of France from 1997 to 2002, retired on the island after his withdrawal from political life. Johnny Depp has also been spotted there.

Sea salt harvest in Ile de Ré.

Night life consists of going to Saint Martin, the main port, or to La Flotte, to walk along the quays and to potter around the shops, which are open late. Restaurants abound. At night, visitors can watch the buskers, have a drink or enjoy the island's delicious artisanal ice cream, all set in a family-friendly atmosphere.

However, the island's native population has also been widely criticised for its allegedly insular nature and fear of outsiders. In May 2012, whisper campaigns and vendetta actions against a family that had immigrated from New Zealand forced it to leave after local authorities refused to assist.[6]

The island has a resident winter population of approximately 20,000 residents and a resident summer population of about 220,000. Since the local population is distributed all over the island, it seldom gets crowded. The island is covered by bicycle tracks, with many residents rarely using cars for transportation. Camping grounds and hotels abound on the island, as well as large supermarkets and all modern amenities. Many families stay on the island for the duration of their vacations.

The area is a popular tourist destination. It has approximately the same number of hours of sunshine as the famous southern coast of France. The island is noted to have a constant light breeze, and the water temperature is generally cool. The island is surrounded with gently sloping, sandy beaches, which are a real treat for families and tourists.

The quays at Saint Martin en Ré.

Life on the island

In 1987, a 3 kilometer bridge was built to connect the island to the mainland. Previously, the island was connected through roll-on roll-off ferries (called "bacs"), which could accommodate vehicles and passengers. In peak summer time periods, the waiting time to board a ship could reach several hours. The bridge was built by Bouygues.[5] Since then, tourism on the island has developed considerably, with real estate prices reaching very high levels. The easier transportation system has stimulated the purchase of holiday homes by people from major cities from the French West, and up to Paris, who can visit for week-ends, mostly in spring and summer. Using the bridge requires the payment of a fix fee (from €8 to €16 for a normal car depending on the season) and makes it the most expensive road to use (ratio per kilometre) in France. The Paris-La Rochelle high-speed train (TGV) trip takes just 3 hours, and then taxis or buses can be taken to the island. Ile de re can also be reached from Paris by plane. It takes only 45 minutes to fly from Paris to La Rochelle airport. The airport is located 5 minutes from the entrance of the bridge.

Connection to the mainland

A bac and the bridge under construction, in 1987.

During World War II, the beaches of the Île de Ré were fortified by German forces with bunkers, in order to block a possible seaward invasion. Many of the bunkers are still visible, in a more or less derelict state. Several scenes of the 1962 movie The Longest Day were filmed on the beaches of the island.

The old city of Saint-Martin, within the walls of the citadel, was added in 2008 to the World Heritage Site list, along with 11 others Fortifications of Vauban across France.

The main port, Saint-Martin, was fortified by Vauban in 1681 as a component of the belt of forts and citadels built to protect the military harbour of Rochefort. It was later used as a depot for convicts on their way to the penal settlements of New Caledonia and French Guiana. Prisoners included Alfred Dreyfus, en route to the penal colony of Devil's Island after his conviction for treason.

Later history

In 1627, an Siege of La Rochelle. After three months of combat in the Siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré against the French under Marshal Toiras, the Duke was forced to withdraw. The English lost 5000 out of 7000 troops during the campaign.

The citadel of Saint-Martin. Military mock-up, 1702. Musée des Plans-Reliefs.

Siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré (1627)

[4] The island was invested forcing Soubise to flee to England.[3] was defeated as was Soubise with 3,000 when he led a counter-attack against the royal troops who had landed on the island.La Rochelle and English navies. The fleet of [3]

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