The temperature is slowly rising on the Ile de Ré. Normally the one we call “The Pearl of the Atlantic” should have vibrated this Tuesday for the first stage in the history of the Tour de France from island to island.
After setting off in the morning of Oléron, the peloton would have swallowed the Pont de Ré to rush in and probably end up sprinting in the streets of Saint-Martin, considered the capital of this tongue of land off La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime). This is only part given to the mayor of the municipality of arrival of this tenth stage. On September 8, Patrice Dechelette will be able to unfold the red carpet for the stars of the international peloton and the Tour caravan. “It will be without the summer vacationers who have already left, but with the schoolchildren who will be entitled to a day without school,” said the councilor (without label), re-elected in the first round of the municipal elections for a third term.
With 138 km of cycle paths crisscrossing absolutely its entire territory, Ré offers adepts of the little queen a kingdom without sharing. From the town of Rivedoux, at the foot of the bridge, to its counterpart at Portes-en-Ré at the other end, where celebrities of show biz mainly take up residence for the summer holidays, bicycles are omnipresent.
“A key word, tranquility”
François-Xavier Cathala, manager of La Martinière glacier, an institution on the island with four shops, sets the scene. “Everyone meets here with a watchword, tranquility. Once the foot put on the ground of Ré, everyone puts their car in the garage and places to relax. “
And the people are no exception. Apart from a crowd created around Johnny Depp who left to buy croissants in Saint Martin when the American actor lived in a relationship with Vanessa Paradis, celebrities can taste the tranquility. However, the invasion of the place – the population of the region rose from 18,000 inhabitants in winter to 135,000 at the height of the summer holidays – would be enough to tend reports. “The family spirit predominates,” says François-Xavier Cathala. The industry captain puts on old shorts and old sneakers and blends into the background. “
By putting their bags here, celebrities agree to mingle with the population while cultivating in return a relative discretion. It is only at the end of the island between the villages of Ars, Loix and Les Portes and not far from the Trousse-Chemise wood dear to Charles Aznavour that they populate the café terraces.
“We regularly see actor Vincent Lindon or presenter Karine Le Marchand jogging without causing any particular reactions,” says the couple of managers of the restaurant Le Patio, located at the foot of the Lighthouse of the Whales. The actor and writer Lorànt Deutsch, who married civilly at the town hall of Loix and religiously at the church of Saint-Martin, regularly leaves the windmill that he has renovated for bike rides flanked by a sleigh . The attachment to the island of the actor has never wavered since after the storm Xynthia in 2010, he had given a free show with the late Didier Besace to help the families of the victims.
Another fan of the fresh air, Valérie Damidot who has taken up residence in La Couarde-sur-Mer. She had described to us a few years ago her habits by the ocean: “Beach, bike, dinner and aperitifs”. “To give you an image and compare with the Côte d’Azur. We go to Saint-Tropez to be seen and to Île de Ré not to be seen, ”summarizes Patrice Dechelette.