Monday, September 05, 2011

From Brittany to Ile de Re – 22 August 2011

After packing up our campsite, just as the rain moved in, we had coffee in the fabulous walled town of Guerande. The drive from here to our next stop of La Rochelle, had little of interest. But by doing a detour inland, we were able to explore the area of Marais Poitevin around the town of Coulon.
The inhabitants of the area have reclaimed the land by digging a series of canals. These provide the area with attractive waterways, which are now a tourist attraction. We enjoyed driving around the area, and in particular, the town of Coulon.

Saint Martin-De-Re on the Ile De Re, is an attractive town built within one of Vauban's forts. The idea of camping inside a Vauban Fort had real appeal, but the guide books all agreed that there are no camp sites (or hotel/chambres de hote beds) available in July or August, without booking ahead. We decided we would try for the Municipal Campsite, which is sited in two arms of the actual fort.
The sign on the gate said 'Complete', but we decided to play the part of ignorant foreigners, and see if they had room for one small tent for one night, and in fact, they had one site left. But we had no sooner checked in and paid, when the receptionist told us to tie the tent down well, as they were expecting a storm to come through tonight. That was discouraging, but as it turned out, pretty much a non-event.

We enjoyed walking around the town in the hot sunshine. The island is said to have a special microclimate, second only to the Cote D'Azur. We certainly found this to be true, as we had left the mainland threatening to rain, for the island enjoying hot sunshine.

Within the Vauban Fort is the port, and surrounding that were lots of cafes. The whole town has a wonderful holiday (and very touristy) feel. There is a great view of the town and harbour from the top of the church tower. As we enjoyed the view, we noticed a bride in an amazing gown walking along the road, with accompanying groom and photographer. We took a few photos of her walking far below, looking remarkably like an ostrich at that angle.

Shortly after, they appeared at the top of the tower looking extremely hot and bothered, quite a feat in a beautiful long wedding gown, to have photos with this brilliant background. We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon walking around, and a great meal on the harbourside; really a memorable spot.

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