My 2 days in…Rochefort

A must-do stopover on the Atlantic Coast situated 35km southeast of La Rochelle, Rochefort has a rich maritime heritage. Let me take you on a visit to the Corderie Royale, the Maritime Museum or the Hermione, where everywhere you turn the world of the sea is present.

Museum of the Navy

Day 1

The National Maritime Museum

If you really want to understand the Maritime Arsenal in Rochefort your first stop should be the National Maritime Museum. Located in the “Hôtel de Cheusses” - former residence of Royal Navy Commanders - it exhibits old models of ships, machines, tools, paintings and countless testimonies and documents.

Full rate: €6,50, reduced rate: €5,50. Tel.: +33 (0)5 46 99 86 57. www.musee-marine.fr

La Corderie Royale

The Corderie Royale

In the heart of the Arsenal, the Corderie Royale is a magnificent building that stretches over 374 metres. Push the doors of this manufactory, where the ropes for the big Royal Navy ships were made, and you'll be instantly plunged into the atmosphere, probably due to the distinct odour of the vegetal fibres. In the workshops you'll discover the crafts of spinners, stranders, knot and rope tiers...

Pass Arsenal des Mers

L’Hermione et l’Accrô-mats

The Hermione and Accro-masts

The Hermione: a famous frigate used by the Marquis de La Fayette to support the American independents in 1780. Result of over seventeen years work, today the Hermione is the biggest replica of an ancient vessel ever rebuilt in France. Inspired by the experience, find out what is was like to be a deckhand at the neighbouring Accro-masts adventure park in the shape of a frigate. Acrobatic thrills and a taste of life at sea guaranteed on the ship's deck. Welcome aboard sailor!

To recover from your emotions, take a stroll through the Jardin des Retours garden that runs the length of the Corderie Royale. Designed by the landscaper Bernard Lassus it has plenty of relaxing views over the Charente river. Then why not stop for lunch in the harbour.

In the evening, take in a show at La Coupe d’Or, a superb 17th century Italian-style theatre.
Check out the programme at www.theatre-coupedor.com*

Rochefort - place Colbert

Day 2

The Bird “Sanctuary”

On the banks of the Charente, the lagoon station treats the sewage and water waste from Rochefort in an economically and environmentally-friendly way. It is also a great spot for sea birds. Take a silent walk around this 70-hectare site to discover this out-of-the-ordinary ornithological spot. Don't forget your binoculars!

Nature Space. Tel.: +33 (0)5 46 82 12 44. Full rate: €6; reduced rate : €5. Free for the under 10.

A walk around town

Built around a checkerboard plan, Rochefort took on its finished appearance thanks to Michel Bégon (Navy Intendent 1688-1710) when he organised the rebuilding of the town in cut stone. Make the most of a stroll through the streets and squares to get a full picture of the architecture and layout. Don't miss the Place Colbert, famous as the setting for cult French film “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” by Jacques Demy, with Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac.

Enjoy a refreshing drink or a bite to eat on one of the many terraces.

In the evening, treat yourself to a night visit of local history with the Noctambulations: an entertaining and out-of-the-ordinary experience that I would highly recommend!

Noctambulations, every Tuesday in July (9.30pm) and August (9.00pm). www.rochefort-ocean.com

Rochefort 

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Fort Boyard

The Fort Boyard is a key element of the Naval Dockyard of Rochefort which extends all along the estuary of the Charente.
If the construction of this fortification on the "Longe of Boyard" was considered as early as the seventeenth century, the project only really started in the course of the 19th century. Built with the aim of protecting the harbor, the mouth of the Charente and especially the large dockayrd of Rochefort from the assaults of the English navy, the Fort was transformed into a prison a few years after its completion.


The Fort has been classified as an historic monument since 1950.


The Fort is 68 metres long on 31 metres large, for a total surface area of 2689 square metres. The surrounding walls peak at 20 metres. The fort is also built on a sandbak called "Longe of Boyard" which gave its name to the Fort itself.


Since 1990, Fort Boyard has been the location of a television game of the same name.


Located between the islands of Aix and Oléron, the Fort Boyard is part of the territory of Rochefort-Océan. Many departures of cruises are possible to bypass the Fort (from Port-des-Barques, Fouras-les-Bains or the Island of Aix).


There is a charge for the boat tour of the fort.

Longe de Boyard 17123 Île-d'Aix
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Batterie de Jamblet

The Jamblet battery helped to protect the Rochefort arsenal and the harbour. The fortification presents a museum space to discover the military role of the island of Aix in the defence of Rochefort and its arsenal.
The Jamblet battery helped to protect the Rochefort arsenal and the harbour where the warships anchored. A simple 2-gun battery in 1756, the battery was destroyed by the English in 1757. Under the Consulate and the Empire (1799-1815), the whole defence of the Aix harbour was rethought and the Jamblet battery was rebuilt. In use until 1926, it was abandoned after the Second World War.


The fortification presents a museum space to discover the military role of the island of Aix in the defence of Rochefort and its arsenal.

Jamblet 17123 Île-d'Aix
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Cercle Nautique de l'Ile d'Aix : sailing school

French Sailing School.
The "Cercle Nautique de l'Ile d'Aix" is a sailing club welcoming you to a wide range of sailing activities!

-> First trip: an introduction to sailing of all kinds with an instructor

-> Sailing courses for ages 5 and over

-> Trimaran trip for 5 to 6 people (including instructor)

-> Introduction to the sea world: an educational visit to the foreshore

-> Groups welcome

-> Standup paddleboard, single or double kayak, Catamaran F1 rentals

Have fun with your family or friends.

The CNIA now has a MEGA SUP AIR (paddleboard for several people), available for rent from Monday to Saturday.

Fort de la rade 17123 Île-d'Aix
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Napoleon Museum

Now a historical monument, it is the house in which Napoleon surrendered to the English.
Discover the last home of Napoleon I on French soil before his exile to Saint Helena in 1815. The Napoleon Museum exhibits numerous relics that once belonged to him (furniture, portraits, keepsakes.). By the looks of its, it's almost as if the Emperor never left the house.

30 rue Napoléon 17123 Île-d'Aix
Du 01/04/2022 au 30/09/2022
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Île d'Aix

The island of Aix, classified as a remarkable natural site, is an invitation to travel and get away from it all. It is only accessible by boat, all year round, from the Pointe de la Fumée in Fouras-les-Bains.
The insular charm of a military land: peacefull island, you will discover it on foot, by bicycle or in a carriage. With its fortified village, its coastal batteries, its forts, including the famous Fort Boyard, the island is a place out of time, charming lovers of history and children dreaming of adventures. The only "true" island of Charente-Maritime, Aix Island draws a great pride in its imperial past. Under the First Empire, it was transformed into a fortress island and became the cornerstone of the defense of Rochefort. After a first visit in 1808, the Emperor Napoleon I went to the island again in July 1815 and settled for four days in the house of the Governor, his last residence on French land before his exile in St. Helena. It is also on the Aix Island that you will find one the last workers of the Mother-of-pearl in France. A remarkable natural site: The Aix Island, 3 km long and 700 m wide, concentrates all the diversity of the coastal landscapes of the Charente-Maritime. Classified on the list of "Remarkable Natural Sites", it is a fragile place that one must respect. Advice: The sand dunes protect the coast. Participate in saving them by respecting the walking paths. Preserve the flora and do not pick the flowers. Keep the island clean and you can collect garbage bags free of charge from the Tourist Office to put your waste in. The fortified village by Vauban is located on the southern part of the land, bordered by beaches, creeks and rocks. The island, accessible only by boat, is in the heart of the pertuis of Antioch, between the island of Oléron and and the peninsula of Fouras.

17123 Île-d'Aix
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African Museum

Africa on the island of Aix.
Africa on the Aix Island : The creator of this museum, Baron Napoleon Gourgaud (1881-1944), liked to hunt in Africa and he was passionate about ethnography and the natural sciences. In this museum, numerous collections of trophies, sculptures and ethnographic objects that the baron brought back from his many expeditions in Southern and Eastern Africa and his animal dioramas representing the African fauna realized by the Londoner taxidermist Rowland Ward.

Rue Napoléon 17123 Île-d'Aix
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