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Title: Saint-Martin-de-Ré  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré (1627), Nicolas Baudin, Prison of St-Laurent-du-Maroni, Île de Ré, Fortifications of Vauban
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The quays
The quays
Coat of arms of Saint-Martin-de-Ré
Coat of arms
Saint-Martin-de-Ré is located in France
Country France
Region Poitou-Charentes
Department Charente-Maritime
Arrondissement La Rochelle
Canton Saint-Martin-de-Ré
Intercommunality Ile-de-Ré
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Patrice Déchelette
Area1 4.70 km2 (1.81 sq mi)
Population (2008)2 2,585
 • Density 550/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 17369 / 17410
Elevation 0–17 m (0–56 ft)
(avg. 8 m or 26 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Saint-Martin-de-Ré is a commune in the Charente-Maritime department in southwestern France.

It is one of the 10 communes located on the Île de Ré.


  • History 1
    • Fortifications 1.1
    • Prison to the penal colonies 1.2
  • Population 2
  • Gallery 3
  • Personalities 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7



Ditch and fortifications in Saint Martin de Ré

Saint-Martin-de-Ré has extensive fortifications, reflecting the strategic importance of the Île de Ré. During the Wars of Religion in the 1620s, Cardinal Richelieu ordered that the island be fortified as a counterweight to the Protestant nearby city of La Rochelle on the French mainland. This included a citadel at Saint Martin. After La Rochelle had been subdued, Saint-Martin's fortification were largely demolished to remove its potential threat to royal power.

In 1627, an Siege of La Rochelle. After three months of combats in the Siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré against the French under Marshal Toiras, the Duke was forced to withdraw in defeat.

Later, in the 1670s, the French engineer, Vauban was commissioned to review and overhaul the island's defences and, as a result, Saint Martin was enclosed by extensive and modern walls and embankments. This was done in three major phases ending in 1702 and the end result was an enclosed town capable of housing the island's population for a long siege.

Prison gate in Saint-Martin

Prison to the penal colonies

Between 1873 and 1938, the prison in Saint-Martin de Re kept prisoners before they were shipped to the penal colonies in French Guiana or New Caledonia. See penal colonies on Re Island (French).


The population of the commune has remained remarkably steady since 1800, although it was considerably larger during the French Revolution and dipped below 2000 from the 1920s to the 1940s.

The commune is the third-largest town on the island. With La Flotte, it forms a small urban area with 5531 inhabitants in 2008, which places it as the 11th-largest metropolitan area in Charente-Maritime and the largest on the island.



See also



External links

  • Saint-Martin-de-Ré Tourism Office
  • Île de Ré and Ernest Cognacq museums
  • Vauban fortifications
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