Rochefort Océan


 

Right next to the Atlantic Ocean and to the south of La Rochelle, Rochefort Océan offers a remarkable architectural heritage and unspoilt landscapes along the estuary of the Charente. The richness of its history, the quality of its springs and the mildness of its climate are real invitations to travel. Welcoming and accessible to all thanks to its "Tourisme et Handicap" (Accessible Tourism) certified sites; Rochefort Océan has been rewarded by the EDEN 2013 competition in terms of "Tourism and Accessibility".

Between naval shipyard and 1900s seaside resort

The exceptional geographical location would transform the Rochefort destination, which was chosen by Colbert to build "The most wonderful and grandest shipyard in the kingdom". La Corderie Royale, nicknamed "The Versailles of the sea", is the masterpiece of this collection of buildings with quite beautiful traditional architecture.

Elegant and sophisticated, the city of Rochefort is also the ship cradle and home port of the replica of the Hermione frigate, which the Marquis of La Fayette would board in 1780 to lend a helping hand to the Americans in their war for independence. Built in the shipyard according to 18th century methods, it was launched in 2015 to retrace the journey of the famous Marquis to the USA. If it is not at sea, take the time to visit it. It is a fascinating historical discovery for the whole family.

On the mouth of the Charente and a few kilometres from the Rochefort shipyard, Fouras-les-bains has been a renowned seaside resort since the fashion of sea bathing in the 19th century. Stroll down the Boulevard de l’Océan and admire the rich villas. The solarium and the great northern beach, with guaranteed accessibility for people with reduced mobility, are invitations to the delights of the sea.

 

Landscapes between land and sea

From the meandering of the Charente to the Atlantic Ocean, the region reveals landscapes combining natural marshland and small fishermen's villages with low houses. Via the paths and trails, Rochefort Océan invites you to discover:

  • the coastline, its beaches, the islands of Aix and Madame,
  • the forts protecting the Rochefort shipyard including the famous Boyard fort,
  • the four nature reserves (see the Nature tab), bird shelters and havens of peace for nature,
  • the oyster farming sites of the peninsulas of Fouras-les-Bains and Port-des-Barques,
  • a very Charente way of life between ancient vineyards, Romanesque art, squares and fountains of small towns with a certain charm (see the Culture tab).

This destination invites you to relax and enjoy the tranquillity. Ideal for lovers of foodie, cultural and natural holidays.

 

Events worth noting

Jazz and electronic music, historical reconstructions, shows, board sports and nature trips: a great number of outings, festivities and events are on offer all year round. For more information visit: www.rochefort-ocean.com/preparer/agenda

Among these events, in Rochefort, there is the Summer Sound Festival: in a special setting, in the heart of the naval shipyard opposite La Corderie Royale, enjoy a real wave of electronic sounds in the middle of summer. A key date for the diary for fans and enthusiasts.

 

Awarded "Tourism and Accessibility" at the EDEN competition in 2013

With fifty establishments certified "Tourisme et Handicap" (Tourism and accessibility), Rochefort Océan has become a tourist and leisure destination accessible to all, thanks to developments and suitable training for the professionals involved.

Discover around thirty accommodation establishments suited to all, in campsites, gites, hotels and even charming villas, like the "Villa Roccia" or the "Villa Charpentier". Lunch on a terrace opposite the sea, at the foot of the ramparts of Rochefort or in the 3 hectare grounds of the Logis du Péré: the five restaurants certified "Tourisme et Handicap" welcome you with professionalism and courtesy.

 

Developed monuments and beaches

Discovering the Rochefort naval shipyard is a must. It is an exceptional site, a testament of the French King Louis XIV's desire to defend his coasts and his country. With a little luck, you will be able to climb on board the Hermione, the replica of the freedom frigate which La Fayette boarded to support the Americans in their war for independence. La Corderie Royale visit is a must, various special equipment is on offer there:

  • Induction loop amplifiers for partially deaf individuals,
  • Wheelchairs and arrangements for people with reduced mobility,
  • Audio guides and contrast keyboards for the visually impaired, as well as an audio description version with touch supports and tactile displays for the blind. Guide dogs are allowed.
  • Visual guides with content in French sign language for deaf people,
  • Individuals trained to support people with mental disabilities.

In the city, attend a performance in the wonderful Italian style theatre of the Coupe d’Or. Built in the 18th century it has been completely renovated and developed for people with reduced mobility. Visit the Musée national de la Marine (National Maritime Museum of Rochefort), where numerous facilities are available: tactile models, sensory visits, etc. On the banks of the Charente, discover the Centre d’interprétation du Transbordeur (Transporter Bridge Interpretation Centre): a work of art currently unique in France. Enjoy oysters at the Ecomusée of the peninsula of Port des Barques. Everything is detailed in the city's accessibility guide.

For nature lovers, stroll along the Polders trail of the Moëze Oléron nature reserve: 1.4km of boardwalk has been developed on a single level for wheelchair visitors.

In the summer and when the weather is nice, make the most of the joys of the beach in Fouras-les-Bains. On the north beach, tirlaos (beach wheelchairs) are provided.

 

With nature reserves, real refuges for numerous birds, walking and cycling routes, sandy and pebble beaches, the island and the peninsula, Rochefort Océan invites you on nature activities for the whole family, accessible to all.

 

Between river, marshland and estuary, ecosystems are ripe for discovery

A sanctuary for over 300 migratory bird species, the four nature reserves of Rochefort Océan invite you to immerse yourself in the heart of nature:

  • Opposite Oléron, stride along the four nature trails of the Moëze nature reserve. The Polders trail has been especially developed for people with reduced mobility and visually impaired people with the option of taking guide dogs.
  • To the north of Rochefort, in the Marais d’Yves nature reserve, the birds of the marshland are also visible in sculpted form. This equipment adapted to the visually impaired enables the development of one's sense of touch.
  • Observe the large waders under the last rays of the sun in the Moins hut in Breuil Magné, a 150 hectare reserve.
  • Visit the original lagoon treatment plant of Rochefort where visits with a commentary allow you to discover this unique 70 hectare site which treats the waste water of the city ecologically.

And to find out everything about the life of oysters, discover the Ecomusée de Port des Barques. The instructive and fun visit showcases an oyster farming area and illustrates the history of oyster farming in the region.

 

Experience the beach, bathing and yachting

With the estuary, the peninsulas, the islands and the beaches, Rochefort Océan is an invitation to seaside delights:

Want to relax? Sunbathe on one of the 5 beaches of Fouras-les-bains, including the north beach accessible to people with reduced mobility, or go for the Les Anses beach to the far south of the peninsula in Port-des-Barques.

Do you want some sea air? Head out in a kayak, paddle board or sailing boat to follow the coast. Unless you would prefer to take a cruise boat to go on a tour of Fort Boyard, a work in the middle of the sea, built in the 19th century to protect the harbour of the island of Aix and the Rochefort shipyard. Make the most of this ocean tour by stopping off at the island of Aix where it is nice to spend a day travelling from beach to cove by bike or on foot.

Fish from the shore to discover whelks, cockles, razor shell clams and prawns on the Pointe de la Fumée in Fouras-les-Bains or on the island of Aix or Madame. Be careful, before heading off, consult the official by-laws displayed regarding the areas that are and are not authorised.

 

On foot and by bike

Over 300km of marked trails allow you to discover various environments between the coastline, the marshland, the cities and the villages.

  •  26 walking routes: along the estuary, in the marshland, on the coastline and even the "Demoiselles de Rochefort" route in the footsteps of the director Jacques Demy.
  • 15 cycling routes: including the Aqueducs route, the new V92 Véloroute, which links Charente-Maritime with the Dordogne and two stages of the Eurovélo no.1 - Vélodyssée Atlantique which crosses the territory from the north to the south going through Rochefort and offers a variant to visit Fouras-les-bains. 

The guidebook for these hikes is available from the Tourist Office. On their site you will find the information to download the free Rochefort Océan Tour Smartphone app which details all these routes.

 

Rochefort, a shipyard that was the wish of Louis XIV of France

In 1666, Colbert suggested that Louis XIV of France establish a naval shipyard in the city of Rochefort, on the banks of the Charente.  La Corderie Royale, a real jewel of classical architecture, would be nicknamed the "Versailles of the sea". The exceptional length of the building (374 metres) is explained by the need to make rigging of nearly 200 metres. Warehouses, a foundry, forges and gunpowder magazines made up a unique complex allowing for the construction of over 550 ships.

Now, La Corderie Royale houses the Centre International de la Mer the purpose of which is to highlight the prestigious past of the monument. The Centre also ensures the dissemination of the maritime culture of the sites via carrying out exhibitions, festivals and events, as well as the publishing of works on the human adventure of the sea. To get a more in-depth understanding of this great shipyard, go to the Musée national de la Marine.

 

Romanesque and Medieval art throughout the territory

Known since the Middle Ages as a port where the deep-sea vessels would meet the river boats to load tonnes of Cognac, Tonnay-Charentes is upstream of Rochefort. Nowadays, the docks of this charming port offer a magical walk opposite Charente and allow you to admire the city. By meandering towards the suspension bridge of Tonnay-Charente, discover the splendid views of the marshland and the old town, the commercial port and, in the background, the transporter bridge.

A little further down the old shoreline, a swing bridge, moats, a guardroom, a dwelling and a herb garden, as well as catapults and medieval reconstructions invite you to a unique experience during your visit to the St Jean d'Angle fortified castle. The visit to this 13th century site brings the times of knights and the Middle-Ages to life for a fun and interesting trip for all the family.

 

A dynamic and varied cultural life

Master paintings, realistic landscapes and Orientalist paintings make up rich collections ranging from fine arts to non-European ethnology in the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in the Hôtel Hèbre de Saint-Clément. This museum also offers a 3D exhibition dedicated to the writer and traveller Pierre Loti, while his birth house is renovated. A unique and original formula: from the Gothic room to the Syrian mosque, from the Turkish lounge to the Renaissance dining room, allow yourself to be fascinated by the fantastic world of this sailor-cum-academic.

Rochefort Océan, is also an abundance of ideas and tastes, with musical events like the Summer Sound Festival, the first festival entirely dedicated to electronic music in the South West, the Rencontres des Arts Fous which alternates between the combinations of Hip Pop & Jazz and Folk pop & Soul, or even the Symphonie d’été Festival dedicated to classical music. Other events highlight amateur and professional theatre and street arts like Cigogne en fête which promotes the heritage of rural towns or Rochefort, ville en fête which celebrates the prestigious history of the city, via sketches and historical reconstructions, etc.

 

Make the most of the diversity of accommodation and local produce of Rochefort Océan: oysters, mussels, eels and Charente melons take pride of place here! We offer you a selection of good establishments, all accessible to disabled people.

All year round, the reception service of the Tourist Office is available to you. Thanks to its knowledge of the territory and its expertise on certified tourist establishments, it supports you in order to advise you on the choice of services and make your booking procedures easier. Therefore, we design the day or trip corresponding to your travel plans and areas of interest together. Information and booking from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm: +33(0)5 46 99 86 97 / +33(0)5 46 99 86 98 or sejour@rochefort-ocean.com.

 

Where to sleep

 

  • Hôtel-restaurant La Corderie Royale in Rochefort: a gourmet restaurant, with a pool and terrace, as well as a fitness centre. From €141 per night - www.corderieroyale.com - Rue Audebert, 17300 Rochefort-sur-Mer - +33(0)5 46 99 35 35

 

  •  Hôtel-restaurant Les Remparts, in Rochefort: warm and friendly atmosphere, quality traditional cuisine and a shaded terrace. From €62 per night - www.hotel-remparts.com - 43 avenue Camille Pelletan, 17300 Rochefort - +33(0)5 46 87 12 44

 

  • Le Grand Hôtel des Bains, in Fouras-les-Bains: near to the beach and the town centre, with a bar and flower-filled garden.  Balneotherapy, pool, sauna and Turkish bath. From €66 per night - www.grandhotel-desbains.fr - 15 rue Général Bruncher, 17450 Fouras - +33(0)5 46 84 03 44

 

  • Hôtel de France in Rochefort: right in the heart of the town centre, ‘Tous handicaps’ certified (accessibility for the Disabled). Bar and leisure area available, as well as a hair salon. From €59 / per night - www.hoteldefrancerochefort.com - 55 rue du docteur Peltier, 17300 Rochefort - +33(0)5 46 99 34 00

 

  • Auberge de jeunesse de Rochefort: a stay here on the banks of the Charente would be a wise move, 25 rooms and 91 beds. From €16.30 per night in dormitories to €36 in private rooms - www.aj-rochefort.fr - 7 avenue Maurice Chupin, Parc des Fourriers, 17300 Rochefort - +33(0)5 46 99 74 62

 

  • Camping Domaine des Charmilles, in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Prée: pool, spa customer stays, near to the seaside resort of Fouras-les-Bains. www.domainedescharmilles.com - 1541 route de l'Océan, 17450 Saint-Laurent-de-la-Prée - +33(0)5 46 84 00 05

 

Where to eat

 

  • Ambrosia, in Fouras-les-Bains: opposite the sea, the terrace is an invitation to try brasserie food based on fresh and local produce. 17 avenue Charles de Gaulle, 17450 Fouras - +33(0)5 46 82 16 16

 

  • La Ferme aquacole de l'île Madame: family establishment where you can try produce from the farm. Service at lunchtime only. www.ilemadame.com - Access to Madame island at low tide via the Passe aux Boeufs - +33(0)5 46 84 12 67

 

  • O'Gabier, in Rochefort: located a stone's throw from La Corderie Royale, the restaurant offers quality, flavourful food. The terrace with a view of the sailing boats is a real plus. www.ogabier.fr - 25 avenue Marcel Dassault, 17300 Rochefort - +33(0)5 46 87 56 24

 

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