Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Fortifications at St. Martin, Ile de Re

I've just got back from a holiday in France. I stayed in the old village of St. Martin, on the island of Ile de Re (Isle of Kings), off the coast of La Rochelle. The village is sited within Vauban fortifications which, except for two modern road entry points, is completely unspoilt. Most of the fortifications are accessible to the public - the one exception is the citadel, which is being used as a high security prison. 

The island has been subject to attack, most famously by the Anglo-Dutch fleet under the command of the Duke of Buckingham during the French Wars of Religion: He tried to capture the island. It was this fleet that caused the significant damage to the church - still partially a ruin. 

Here are some photos taken during my stay. There are a few more from the top of the church tower which give an idea of the area they cover. I will add them ASAP.

(BTW. The exact position of the rented cottage is at the small green space - a tennis court - between the Route de l'Omeau and Cours Pasteur. As a holiday location I can thoroughly recommend the island).

 The gate closest to the citadel. It is accessible. 
 One of the modern road entrances passes what must be a magazine. It lies just inside the fortifications, opposite the citadel, and the mound affords significant protection from incoming fire.  
 The bastion complex just two minutes walk from my holiday cottage. This shot shows one of the access points to the ditch - in this case the door to a very dark spiral staircase.
 From the same viewpoint, the ditch.
 The rear corner of the bastion from the ditch.
 Access to the bastion is a narrow stairway.
 A sally port in the inner wall.
 The sally port inside.
 The ravelin gate further along the fortifications. This is almost at right angles to the main gate which lies beyond a further bridge.
 A well inside the ravelin gate.
 The bridge from the ravelin to the main gate. It is identical to the gate at the citadel end of the fortifications. 
A side view of the looong bridge.
 The bridge is well covered from the inner defences.
 Inside view of the gate.
Just to show the symmetry, a shot taken from the other gate's bridge. Compare with above.


BigRedBat said...

That's impressive! Simon

Pierre le Poilu said...

I was there in May and I, too, was very pleased. Part of my plan to see all of UNESCO listing of twelve of Vauban's forts. Very nice, quiet, small place. The German WW2 fortifications, part of the Atlantik Wall, are very impressive. I was very lucky with good weather, the week before and the week after were both bad. The only bad thing - I walked from St Martin to Fort de la Prée, above five miles, but it was still closed so I had to walk all the way back without seeing inside. Martin (VaubantoMaginot.blogspot.co.uk)

Handgrenadealien said...

Yet another site to put on the to-do list. I've seen similar ( but smaller ) fortresses in Portugal but nothing as impressive as that.
Could I recommend a visit to Valletta on Malta, a little before Vauban but utterly magnificent.

Regards HGA.

Henry Hyde said...

Wonderful, thanks for posting those. :-)

I paid a visit to Gravelines back in 2008 which inspired my pirate raid scenario in BG13. I always find that these fortifications are incredibly impressive in the flesh, when you consider how much soil and stone had to be shifted to create them. Marvellous.

The Wishful Wargamer said...

Very interesting photos (nice weather too)! Thanks.