Clocher Observatoire

Île de Ré

A hike up the 117 steps inside the bell stone of fortified Église St-Martin rewards with a mighty fine panorama of St-Martin-de-Ré and the coast. The well-used wooden staircase twists up past the bell tower's trio of bells, the largest of which dates to 1890 and weighs a mighty 1140kg. Be warned: the bells ring for a few minutes every half-hour, in addition to a deafening 10 minutes at 7am, noon and 7pm each day to announce the traditional call to prayer.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Île de Ré attractions

1. Musée Ernest Cognacq

0.25 MILES

This small museum, opposite the tourist office at the entrance to St-Martin de Ré, explores island history through art, ceramics and maritime curiosities…

2. Phare des Baleines

9.65 MILES

For an overview of the island, follow the crowds to Phare des Baleines, the island's scarlet-tipped, 59m-tall lighthouse on its northwestern tip. Scale…

3. Tour de la Lanterne

10.63 MILES

Easily mistaken for an ornate church spire, the conical 15th-century Tour de la Lanterne is La Rochelle's beauty queen. It was so named because of its…

5. Tour de la Grosse Horloge

10.75 MILES

The gateway to the old city, Tour de la Grosse Horloge is a steadfast Gothic-style clock tower with a 12th-century base and 18th-century top.

6. Musée des Beaux-Arts

10.75 MILES

La Rochelle's Museum of Fine Arts, housed inside a stunning neoclassical building, hosts an impressive collection of 15th- to 20th-century art.

7. Tour de la Chaîne

10.79 MILES

To protect the harbour at night in times of war, an enormous chain was raised between the two 14th-century stone towers at the harbour entrance to La…

8. Musée du Nouveau Monde

10.79 MILES

La Rochelle's role as a departure point for North America is interpreted at this museum, housed in an elegant courtyard-clad mansion built in 1750.