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Visit Rochefort - the top must-see tourist sites

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May 1, 2024


Visit Rochefort – the top must-see tourist sites


Are you looking for an original and authentic destination for your next holiday ? Rochefort, nestled between La Rochelle and Royan along the Charente, invites you to discover its treasures. A city of art and history, Rochefort charms with its exceptional heritage, rich in maritime and military past, its gentle way of life, mouth-watering gastronomic specialities and a range of activities for all tastes.

Corderie Royale Rochefort - Photograph of the façade of the main building

Corderie Royale Rochefort – Photograph of the façade of the main building


Whether your passion is history, nature, culture or simply relaxation, Rochefort promises moments of wonder and entertainment. This article is your guide to exploring Rochefort’s must-see sights and offers practical tips for a memorable stay.

Follow the guide!

Rochefort: a city of history and heritage

Rochefort developed thanks to the ambition of Louis XIV and Colbert, who wanted to establish a large maritime arsenal on the Charente to measure up to the great European maritime powers. Rochefort became the heart of French shipbuilding for more than two centuries, giving life to legendary ships such as the Hermione, the frigate that brought Lafayette to America.

Frigate Hermione Rochefort


Today, Rochefort preserves an exceptional heritage, a reflection of its illustrious past. Discover below some emblematic sites not to be missed during your visit to Rochefort.

The Arsenal de la Marine and the Corderie Royale

In the historic heart of Rochefort, the Arsenal de la Marine was the main place where warships were designed, built and repaired. Currently transformed into a museum complex dedicated to the sea, the Arsenal offers various attractions and exciting entertainment.

Don’t miss the Corderie Royale, an imposing 374-metre-long building dedicated to the manufacture of ships’ ropes. Explore the secrets of this production, the techniques of the ropemakers and the evolution of their methods. The Corderie Royale also houses a temporary exhibition by Hicham Berrada, an artist who creates ephemeral works inspired by the metamorphosis of materials.

The Hermione, frigate of liberty

The Hermione is an exact replica of the 18th-century frigate that carried Lafayette to America in 1780, playing a key role in the struggle for American independence. Rebuilt in Rochefort between 1997 and 2014 by a dedicated team of passionate carpenters, blacksmiths, riggers, sailmakers and volunteers, the Hermione has already made several significant voyages, including a crossing of the Atlantic in 2015 to celebrate Lafayette’s expedition.

You will be able to visit the Hermione, currently in dry dock in Anglet, in the port of Bayonne, for restoration work, from February 4, 2023. Learn about its fascinating history, construction, life on board, as well as its adventures.

The National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum in Rochefort is one of the most important naval museums in France. Housed in the Hôtel de Cheusses, the oldest manor house in Rochefort, this establishment was the residence of the commanders of the Navy.

This museum houses a valuable collection of models, paintings, tools, costumes, weapons and sculptures reflecting the golden age of the French Navy. You will find the model of the Thétis, a frigate launched in 1782, the Emperor’s dinghy, a gift from Napoleon III to Rochefort, or the Barracuda type nuclear attack submarine, the current flagship of the French fleet. The museum also offers the opportunity to discover \”Pierre Loti et la Marine\”, a temporary exhibition dedicated to the life and military career of the writer and traveller, born in Rochefort in 1850.

The architectural wonders of Rochefort

Rochefort extends far beyond its famous arsenal and impressive ships. This city has an exceptional architectural heritage that reflects its rich history and cultural influence.

As you explore Rochefort, you will be invited to contemplate unique buildings that will transport you through the ages. Let’s discover together some of Rochefort’s must-see monuments .

The Transporter Bridge – a singular industrial architecture

Unique in France, the Transporter Bridge, built from 1898 to 1900 by engineer Ferdinand Arnodin, is the last in operation in the country. It was designed to connect the two banks of the Charente without hindering navigation.

Visit Rochefort - the top must-see tourist sites

Visit Rochefort – the top of the must-see tourist sites, the transporter bridge



With its two pylons culminating at 66.5 metres and connected by a 175.5-metre-long beam, a suspended gondola ensures the passage of pedestrians, bicycles or motorbikes in just 75 seconds. This bridge, classified as a historical monument in 1976, is a masterpiece of engineering, offering a spectacular view of the river and the city.

The Golden Cup Theatre – an eighteenth-century gem

Located at 101 rue de la République, the Théâtre de la Coupe d’Or is the cultural heart of Rochefort. Built in 1772 according to the plans of Pierre-Alexandre Vignon and opened to the public in 1776, this municipal theatre is an extremely rare illustration of an eighteenth-century Italian-style theatre.

With its horseshoe-shaped hall, three levels of boxes, richly decorated ceiling, and historic stage curtain, it is a living testament to the city’s cultural heritage . Restored in 1994, the theatre now offers a diverse range of live performances and offers a unique insight into its history and architecture.

The Halles de Rochefort and the Place Colbert

Les Halles de Rochefort is the vibrant economic and social centre of the city, a symbol of meeting and exchange. Built of granite and schist for the pillars, with a wooden framework, they adopt a U-shape and open outwards.

They liven up the city on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings by hosting a market where fresh and local products are mixed. Located on the Place Colbert, a large space surrounded by eighteenth-century buildings, they adjoin the site made famous by the film “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” by Jacques Demy. Place Colbert, with its fountain, café terraces and abundant cultural life, remains a must-see.

Nature getaways and relaxation around Rochefort

Rochefort, in the heart of Charente-Maritime, is the perfect base from which to explore the natural beauty of the region. Whether your passion is gardens, flora and fauna, or picturesque islands, the surroundings of Rochefort offer a range of experiences to recharge your batteries and be amazed. Check out our suggestions for must-do outings.

The Compostela Gardens and the Marine Park

Just 15 km from Rochefort, in Trizay, is the Jardins de Compostelle, a 2-hectare floral paradise, designed in 1998 by landscape architect Jean-François Galinet. Inspired by a Hispano-Moorish style, the garden offers a diversity of landscapes, punctuated by ponds and water jets, housing more than 300 varieties of plants. Admire a vibrant collection of roses, irises, peonies, hydrangeas, agapanthus, sage, lavender and much more.

This enchanting garden is open every day, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., from May to September, with an entrance fee of 6 euros for adults, and free admission for children under 12 years old.

The Parc de la Marine, located in Rochefort itself along the Charente, occupies 4 hectares where the old naval arsenal once stood. Renovated in 2007, this park invites you to relax, play, picnic and walk, with its sculptures, fountains, pontoons and aquatic plants. Access is free every day, offering a magnificent view of Rochefort’s emblems such as the Corderie Royale, the Transporter Bridge, and the Hermione.

The Moëze-Oléron Nature Reserve

Between the island of Oléron and the mainland, 25 km from Rochefort, lies the Moëze-Oléron nature reserve. It covers 6,400 hectares, protecting unique coastal environments, wet meadows and salt meadows, which are essential for the wintering and migration of many species of birds. With more than 270 observable species, including 69 nesting species, this reserve is a sanctuary for birdwatchers. Visit it with your family, all year round, for an immersion in nature, with marked trails, guided tours and exhibitions, for a price of 4 euros per adult and free for children under 18 years old.

Excursion to the Ile d’Aix and Ile Madame

Ile d’Aix, a small island in southwestern France and part of the Charente archipelago, is located 3.1 km from Pointe de la Fume. Accessible only by boat, this car-free island offers a unique experience of tranquility and discovery. Explore on foot, by bike, or by horse-drawn carriage, its rich historical and natural heritage, its beaches and secret coves. It is a haven of peace to recharge your batteries away from the hustle and bustle of the world.

Ile Madame, located 2 km from Port-des-Barques, is an uninhabited and wild island, accessible via the Passe aux Boeufs at low tide. Ideal for walks, fishing on foot, or cycling, it also offers a historical spectacle with its casemates of the fort, the fort of the Rade, the Croix aux Galets, and more. Ile Madame is a natural setting offering an exceptional view of Fort Boyard and the Charente coast.


Rochefort is a city that enchants lovers of history, culture, nature and relaxation. When you go to Rochefort, you will be immersed in a remarkable heritage, marked by the navy, Napoleon, and the writer Pierre Loti. You will be amazed by exceptional monuments, such as the Transporter Bridge, the Théâtre de la Coupe d’Or, or the Hermione.

The Charente-Maritime offers you its natural treasures : stroll through the Gardens of Compostela, watch the birds in the Moëze-Oléron reserve, or escape to the islands of Aix and Madame. Rochefort is the perfect destination for a holiday that is out of the ordinary, rich in authenticity. Don’t wait any longer, plan your visit to Rochefort now, and benefit from the many tips and practical information offered by the Rochefort Ocean tourist office.


Where to go for a walk in Rochefort?

In Rochefort, here are two ideas for walks according to your preferences:

– For lovers of history and culture, the Arsenal of the Seas is a must. This cultural complex brings together museums and attractions, honouring Rochefort’s maritime heritage. You will discover, among other things, the replica of the Hermione, the Corderie Royale, the Maritime Museum and the Transporter Bridge.

– If you are looking for nature and tranquility, the island of Aix is a small paradise without cars. With its magnificent beaches, hiking trails and view of Fort Boyard, the island promises a change of scenery and serenity. Access is by boat from Rochefort or Fouras.

Is Rochefort a beautiful city?

Certainly, Rochefort charms with its beauty and its historical heritage. A city of history, it is distinguished by its rich marine architectural heritage, in particular with the arsenal, the Corderie Royale and the frigate Hermione. Rochefort also enjoys a privileged geographical location, stretching between the Charente and the Atlantic Ocean, offering a multitude of walks and outdoor activities.

Why Rochefort-sur-mer?

Chosen by Louis XIV for its naval arsenal, Rochefort-sur-Mer’s mission was to strengthen French naval power. The city, rich in its past of art and history, preciously preserves its naval heritage, as evidenced by the Corderie Royale, the Hermione and the Naval Aeronautics Museum.

Where to swim in Rochefort sur Mer?

In Rochefort-sur-Mer, there are several swimming spots available to you:

– The peninsula of Fouras-les-Bains, with its five beaches, offers the Plage Nord, from where you can admire the bay of Yves, Châtelaillon and La Rochelle.

– The island of Aix, known for its beautiful sandy beaches, offers the Plage de l’Anse de la Croix, a supervised beach in summer, facing the famous Fort Boyard.

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