Saint-Martin-de-Ré is is a port town and the historical and commercial centre of the Île de Ré, a little lobster shaped island off the west coast of France, now joined to La Rochelle by an iconic bridge.
The island has been described as the Parisian equivalent of the Hamptons or the thinking man's Cote d'Azur. I don't know about that but to me it seems the epitome of understated French chic.
Saint Martin is ringed by star-shaped, 17th-century ramparts, with a huge, preserved citadel on the eastern side. Cafes and restaurants with outdoor terraces surround the busy harbour. As you can see from my photograph taken from the citadel, the town owes much of its character to its white or pastel coloured rendered buildings with red tiled rooves and coloured shutters. What you can't see from this photograph are the many winding lanes, small squares, quaint terraced houses, chic and elegant residences and old historic buildings. The lanes contain some real characterful building frontages of stone and render with simple elegant doors, often adorned by hollyhocks and other wild flowers. I really should have taken more door photographs whilst I was there but I got carried away taking loads of sea-view and harbour shots. Here are the few doors I did photograph. They were taken as long ago as 2007 and since then Ile de Ré has become one of the most sought-after pieces of coastal real estate in France. I do hope, therefore, that these buildings have not been overly improved and their simple rustic character changed. I suspect the last one doesn't look like that now.