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The shop is located in the salty marshes area, in Ars en Ré, still in IR.
This stall on the picture is dedicated to salty marshes products. Centuries ago, for many years, the area had been the main supplier of salt. Le sel du Ré was not only for local consumption but was amongst common commodities exported to the Nouveau Monde (i.e America, see in my Must-see activities the importance of those trade activities between the two sides of the Atlantic ocean). There was first le Sel du Ré then le Sel de Guérande, from Brittany, got gradually famous. L'Ile de Ré has a tradition of salt collecting, so has Guérande area too. The sauniers had tough life to extract salt, burnt by combining actions of sun and salt. More than half of Rétais, till early 20th century, still lived from salt collecting business. That's for the little insight.
The shop is well set, shelvings were full of attractively displayed products. The salesman was busy with the floods of clients who asked for information but he was helpful.
What to buy: Caramels (toffees) with sel de l'Ile de Ré. Something NOT to miss. They made research on it to innovate. They diversified the products that contain their salt. And, for me, they succeeded to do that.
Caramels are of different variations: "natural", "with apple", "with Pineau des Charentes"... They were heavenly. Plus, as they said, butter, milk, salt in the toffees are all ingredients from the Poitou-Charentes region. Pineau too. hehe... They are Poitou- Charentes PR people too.
Apart from that, you may buy salts, scented salts (thym, romarin, lavande, stragon ), "salicorne" or saltwort (a specific plant in the marshes that you may cook with fish), vinegar with salicorne plant. Also, they have cosmetics with marine extracts if I recall it well. I received as a gift from my Mum, a bottle of Salicorne cider vinegar.
I recommand to buy those unusual stuffs because this is the shop of small producers with great products.
What to pay: Not as cheap as industrial sweets and plain white vinegar but hey, they are local products made and sold with love and art.
Updated Jul 7, 2006
Address: Les salicorniers - Le martray - 17590 Ars en Ré
Phone: 05 46 29 07 80
Phare des baleines area is one of must visited of Ile de Ré. A real touristic place, with its snack that serves waffles in summer, ice-cream too. With a huge parking lot along the alley to the shopping area.
As well as your "Ile de Ré" shirt or navy jumper. They look nice without the golden logos and inscriptions. :) Materials are nice, though.
Shops for postcards too, for some souvenirs: pottery (of Saintes area), - Saintes being a town specialized in pottery-, Les ânes de Ré (asses with snickers, a tradition in Ile de Ré has the asses/ donkeys wearing "culottes" whilst grazing or working. Oddly, they have some long hairs too :), salt box in pottery...
Donkey plushes are common too, regarding the tradition as well as whale plushes since Phare des baleines means "Whale lighthouse". Click here to find a reminder on the area.
What to buy: The donkey plush interested me as a gag gift. :)
What to pay: ???
Updated Mar 14, 2004