The Last of Ile de Re

German Bunkers in the Distance
The rest of our days in Ile de Re were occupied by more eating and more long walks. We explored the beach near Saint-Clement where there are German bunkers from WWII, eerie concrete structures covered in graffiti and driftwood. “It’s like something from Planet of the Apes,” Kat said. We explored them for a brief while until it was too haunting to think about this emblem of the past.
We also walked down to the old lighthouse, la Phare de Saint-Clement. There’s a museum there, but we didn’t have enough time or interest to really explore it. It was enough looking at the signs and learning that one tower was built in the 16th century and the other in the 19th century. We also got to see some pictures of old French forts that at high tide were surrounded by water.
Sunday afternoon, we got back on the bus to head to La Rochelle, where we waited for our train to Paris. I didn’t get to spend much time in La Rochelle, France, but what I did see during the two hours I was there was charming. It’s a medieval port city, complete with stone towers guarding the harbor and an old wall around the city center. There are winding, cobble-stoned streets that narrowly lean into each other, buildings so close they give the effect of skyscrapers blocking out the sky.
Medieval Gate in La Rochelle
And while the medieval part quickly shifts into ugly modern blocks on the edges of the city center, one can still find a harbor-side cafe and watch the sun set. The train station a few blocks away doesn’t offer many amenities, but is one of the gorgeous monuments of the 19th century, proving the decadence of the French lifestyle then. It’s not hard to imagine a Brit of that era stepping off the train and seeing this was far from the way of Victorian England. Proust would be proud of this monument of the past.
Harbor at La Rochelle
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