A short boat trip from La Rochelle to l’Île de Ré gave just enough time to explore the island’s historic capital, St Martin de Ré.  Although the port is ringed with cafés and thronged with holiday makers the narrow back streets are quiet and surprisingly green.  Ancient and modern houses alike front directly onto the cobbled lanes but hollyhocks, lavender and roses find root in narrow pockets of earth.  Walls are whitewashed, roofs are brindled clay tiles, doors and shutters are painted in subtle shades of blue, grey and green.  It all looks timeless, spontaneous and accidentally tasteful.  I guess the local mairie works hard to keep it that way.


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A rooftop view from the church bell tower.  Click twice to zoom in on the detail.