Winter on the Atlantic coast. Not always sunny. This trip to the island just over a 3km Bridge from La Rochelle, was, due to the windy weather, not very memorable.
The island is a summer play ground, when the population increases ten fold compared to the winter.
We walked around the Marina in St. Martin, before finding one of only two places to eat, a locals bar, in hindsight the not so good choice. A Bistro in the marina seemed much more promising, but this guy does not wait in line for a table. Never. Sometimes though, I should reconsider that rule, there was a reason why this place was packed, while my choice was very empty.....even the waiter did not want to be there. Anyway.
A cyclist's paradise, the whole island is flat, even I could manage a bike ride around for a while.
The place is full of character, I can see why houses are quite a bit more than on the mainland.
So much more to see, so much more to do, we will come back in the spring, before the tourist onslaught, as besides not wanting to wait for a table, I also can't stand traffic....
The area is a popular tourist destination. It has approximately the same number of hours of sunshine as the famous southern coast of France. The island is noted to have a constant light breeze, and the water temperature is generally cool. The island is surrounded with gently sloping, sandy beaches, which are a real treat for families and tourists.
The island has a resident winter population of approximately 20,000 residents and a resident summer population of about 220,000. Since the local population is distributed all over the island, it seldom gets crowded. The island is covered by bicycle tracks, with many residents rarely using cars for transportation. Camping grounds and hotels abound on the island, as well as large supermarkets and all modern amenities. Many families stay on the island for the duration of their vacations.
Night life consists of going to Saint Martin, the main port, or to La Flotte, to walk along the quays and to potter around the shops, which are open late. Restaurants abound. At night, visitors can watch the buskers, have a drink or enjoy the island's delicious artisanal ice cream, all set in a family-friendly atmosphere.
As a famous holiday resort on the Atlantic coast, the island has its fair share of celebrities, past and present. Among others, Jean Monnet, the father of European Unity, singers Charles Aznavour and Claude Nougaro, actors Bernard Giraudeau and Claude Rich, actress Carole Bouquet, writer Philippe Sollers or Princess Caroline of Monaco used to or still spend their holidays there. Lionel Jospin, who was Prime Minister of France from 1997 to 2002, retired on the island after his withdrawal from political life. Johnny Depp has also been spotted there.
Oysters and fresh fish are always available. There is also a tradition in which the fishermen, upon returning from the sea, sell a small quantity of their catch directly on the quays, enabling them to buy a drink. Markets are open on a daily basis in the main towns and are a popular place to shop, taste and chat. Even the vendors in the markets come to the island on their holidays. Generally, they work only in the mornings, enabling them to enjoy the remainder of the day. A large variety of items can be bought at the market, such as comics, books, African articles, ceramics, clothes, artifacts, food, local specialities, tools and souvenirs.
A MURAL OF THE ISLAND
JUST OVER THE BRIDGE FROM LA ROCHELLE
THOUGH WINDY, STILL 14 CELSIUS....
GREAT WAY TO DISCOVER THE ISLAND
A BIT FASTER THAN A BIKE, BUT STILL RELAXED
MARINA IN ST. MARTIN
A BAKERY. OF COURSE
THAT'S WHAT I CALL A BOUTIQUE HOTEL. NOT A CONVERTED HOLIDAY INN
AT THE LOCALS BAR. JUST WINE NEXT TIME