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Rochefort and surroundings
To discover at Rochefort
The Arsenal of the Seas
Arsenal des Mers = 1 Pass, 3 sites. The opportunity for all visitors to push the doors of Arsenal and embrace a career as a worker, engineer, sailor, captain or inventor thanks to a unique ticket that will take you to the 3 sites: La Corderie Royale, Le Chantier de L’Hermione and Le Musée de la Marine.
The maritime heritage, the great pride of the city.
The maritime Arsenal closed in 1927, was severely affected during World War II, before fading from memory for years. Today, it becomes the main tourist asset of the city.
The maritime heritage of the city of Rochefort fills all its inhabitant with great pride, as is shown by renovation and rehabilitation of La Corderie Royale in 1985, or the titanic adventure of the reconstruction of la Frégate de l’Hermion from 1997 to 2015.
Le patrimoine maritime de la ville de Rochefort remplit tous ses habitants d’une grande fierté, la preuve en est avec la rénovation et la réhabilitation de La Corderie Royale en 1985 ou encore l’aventure titanesque de la reconstruction à l’identique de la Frégate de l’Hermione de 1997 à 2015.
For two and a half centuries, 550 ships were built in the Rochefort Arsenal. Why not build a one and repeat the journey to America? In April 2015, the replica of the mythical Hermione, the frigate that carried La Fayette to the American War of Independence, was put to sea for a memorable maiden voyage.
Today, it has taken up residence in the form of a refit close to the one that saw its birth and is a delight for visitors who come from all over the world to admire it.
Today, it is exposed in the dry dock next to the one that saw its birth and is a delight for visitors who come from all over the world to admire it. La Corderie Royale, located at two hundred meters of the freedom frigate, can be visited as its far end : The International Sea Center offers a permanent exhibition on the history of this 373-meter building, which was dedicated to the production of ropes for the ships of Le Roi Soleil.
With the spinning, tapping and pairing workshops, the ropes will have no secrets for you!
To complete your tour in a more historical perspective and dive back a few centuries in the foundation of La Cité de Colbert, go and discover the magnificent collections of Le Musée de La Marine located next to Le Chantier de L’Hermione, in the Hotel de Cheusses.
Founded by Louis XIV, it fathers the most precious witnesses of the maritime arsenal life. Ancient model of ships, machines, tools, paintings, models, sculptures, weapons… The museum tells the history of a human and collective adventure. A replica of the Medusa’s raft has been exhibited in the courtyard since its creation for the filming of a documentary.
Naval Medicine School: a unique place in France
This Naval Medicine School founded in 1722 was the first in the world. For nearly 250 years, she trained surgeons on board warships. In 1788, she moved into a pavilion of the new maritime hospital, one of the most modern of the kingdom at this time, where she’s still today, frozen in the mid-nineteenth century.
Rochefort’s health officers actively involved in exploratory trips around the world have built collections of human anatomy, ethnography and natural history, and a huge library as well. This strong and moving tour leaves you with an indefinable feeling.
During your visit in the department, don’t miss the majestic building that has elegantly spanned the Charente for over 120 years. Transporter Bridge, located close to the entrance of Rochefort port, had to replace the ferry at the end of 19th century to allow people to cross without disturbing maritime navigation. Led by Ferdinand Arnodin, disciple of Gustave Eiffel, the work lasted 27 months, the bridge was inaugurated on July 29, 1900. Operational until 1967, it then gave way to the Lift Bridge, which was destroyed in 1991 in favor of the viaduct of l’Estuaire de la Charente that was put into service the same year in order to absorb the increasing traffic while facilitating the maritime flow.
After a long period of abandonment, Transporter Bridge resumed service in 1994 for pedestrians and cyclists. It closed between 2016 and July 2020 for renovation. The resumption of its crossings is effective since July 29 2020, day of its 120 years!
A crossing is essential. You can also visit the Maison du Transbordeur, a center dedicated to the history of the bridge. In a playful and digital space, you can discover the secret of the work construction and learn the fascinating story of its inventor, Ferdinand Arnodin. The Transporter is also one of the emblematic shooting locations of the film Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.
Enjoy the atmosphere of olden times with the life-size reconstruction, in a warehouse dating back to 1900 of more than 1000m. The small shops of the past (petrol station, bike repair shop, bistro, hat shop, pharmacy, grocery store, photographer, shoemaker, bazaar…) will have no secrets for you!
The House of Pierre Loti
In renovation since 2012, La Maison de Pierre Loti is a must-see in the historic heart of the city. Part of Musée de France, this magnificent residence is the childhood home of the famous author of Azia, Ramuntcho or even Fisherman of Iceland. It displays an atmosphere that is secret, magical, and exotic, like the famous writer Pierre Loti by his real name Julien Viaud (1850-1923). This historical monument, composed of rooms that are more surprising than one other (the Renaissance room, the Gothic Room, the mosque, the Turkish lounges, the Arab room, etc.), can be visited virtually during the renovation period (reopening planned in 2023).
A regular exhibit of collections and a virtual tour are accessible at the Hèbre de Saint-Clement Museum of Art and History, located only a few hundred meters away (at the corner of Rue Charles de Gaulle and Pierre Loti).
The Hèbre Museum of St Clement
The Hèbre Museum brings together the Museum of Art and History and the Heritage Department, responsible for implementing the label city of art and history. It is located in the main street of the market and close to Colbert Square and the Town Hall.
It aims to highlight the past of this singular new city of the 17th century that is Rochefort : a gallery of paintings of a great diversity, collections of objects from oceanic, African or Asian continents, testimonies of the many exchanges between this maritime city and the world.
Crédit : ©SimonDavid/CARO
The Begonia Conservatory
At the end of the 17th century, a botanist, named Father Plumier, found in Central America the first flowers he named begonia in honor of the intendant of Rocherfort, Michel Begon. Begonia has become the emblem of the city, which dedicates a conservatory where you can discover the various species of the world in a greenhouse of 1000m2 (it is one of the richest families of the plant reign), more than 1500 species from 3 continents, and more than 12000 hybrids obtained by man since 1845 ! (guided tours only).
Rochefort Thermal Baths
The hot, highly mineralized thermal water, which is drawn from the depths of the city, contains analgesic, anti-inflammatory and healing properties that offer excellent results in the treatment of rheumatism, phlebology, dermatology, and diseases of the bucco-lingual mucosa.
Another unique asset that makes the Rochefort thermal baths a success is the concentrated marine-river clays of algae and micro-organisms that, combined with ferruginous water, offer a hot mud bursting with active elements, placed in a poultice.
The Rochefort Ladies
Jacques Demy, the author of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, left an indelible mark on the city of Colbert with the musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort with Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac, Jacques Perrin, Danielle Darrieux, Michel Piccoli or the dazzling Gene Kelly. The music of Michel Legrand still grows in our heart.
Crédit : © Elsa COEFFE / CMT
The Rochefort Ladies
Jacques Demy, the author of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, left an indelible mark on the city of Colbert with the musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort with Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac, Jacques Perrin, Danielle Darrieux, Michel Piccoli or the dazzling Gene Kelly. The music of Michel Legrand still grows in our heart
The twins are omnipresent, you can imagine them dancing on Colbert square and in the streets of the city, to the delight of lovers of this musical worthy of Broadway.
Crédit : © Elsa COEFFE / CMT
Fouras-les-bains and Ile d'Aix
Who doesn’t know Père Fouras? He was named after the sea-side resort Fouras-Les-Bains located a few miles away from Rochefort. The city located at the mouth of the Charente on a peninsula is the departure point for the candidates to Fort Boyard, but also the home port of the ferry to Ile d’Aix. Stretching over 2.5 miles, this pretty seaside city seduces with its five beaches, its three ports, its Fort Vauban, its oyster park, its green and relaxing setting, it is a coveted tourist pole of the region. Facing it is the Ile d’Aix, a 129-hectare plot of land that is home to all diversity of the Charente-Maritime coastline.
Ile de quiétude, elle n’est accessible que par bateau et ne se découvre qu’à pied, à vélo ou en calèche… Celle qui a vu Napoléon pour la dernière fois avant son exil à St Hélène, offre un panorama large panorama sur l’archipel charentais avec une vue imprenable sur le fort Boyard, à l’ouest avec en arrière-plan l’Ile d’Oléron, l’Ile de Ré est au nord et l’Ile Madame au sud.
Port des Barques and Ile Madame
Oyster peninsula located about 15 kilometers from Rochefort, the fishing village of Port des Barques lives to the rhythm of natures and tides. On the estuary side, the low houses and magnificent seaside villas, which make up the seafront, seem to protect the village from maritime agitation. As for the ocean, a row of squares (wooden pontoons of stilts for netting the tide) follow the cliff to offer a breathtaking view. It is from Part des Barques that you can access another island: the Ile Madame, accessible by a pass opening at low tide. A wild island without a car that can be discovered on foot, by bicycle or by carriage
Château de Saint Jean d’Angle
Visit the only fortified castle from the department, located at Saint Jean-d’Angle. The plus: the possibility to dress up before discovering the Middle Age through a course of riddles.
A total immersion with the discovery of the vegetable garden, the peasant’s house and its animals, the rose garden of Aliénor, the barefoot path... In the house, different scenes of daily life in a castle make up your visit before climbing to the ramparts. Outside, cross the orchard, then the siege camp to discover the catapults and a still-functioning trebuchet, ancient games, the reconstitution of the castral monument… With this visit, the Middle Ages and the castles will have no secrets for you!