To us one of the highlights of visiting Rochefort is the splendid scenery which we pass on our 13Nm passage up the Charente River and being such a change from a sea passage. Access into the locked marina is quite limited being at variable times either side of HW in La Rochelle and dependant on the tidal height that day. The river flow can be strong (about 2 to 3 knots at times) but there are two waiting pontoons just outside the lock gates.
Rochefort was primarily a concealed French naval dockyard in the 17th century and much of this history has been well preserved with many of the former naval buildings now restored as museums such as the rope works called the Corderie Royale. On our last visit a replica of a 44m long 3-masted frigate to be called the ‘Hermoine’ was nearly completed after 18 years work and consuming 2000 oak trees and it was about to be launched to make its maiden long voyage to America.
As with many of the harbours we visit, and especially at Rochefort, we always check their berthing availability the day before our intended visit and telephone them again once we are sure of our ETA.
The visitor’s berth is straight ahead after passing through the lock gates or sometimes for smaller boats the Capitainerie offer berthing further into the marina, beyond the Capitainerie and a lifting road bridge, into the Bassin Bougainville. Here there are several small shops, car hire, restaurants, a boulangerie and cafes.
The station is only a 5-minute walk of here with a direct service to La Rochelle. Rochefort and its environs are well known for the fortified wine called Pineau Charente comprising grape juice and locally produced cognac which we enjoy chilled as an aperitif.
The walk into the busy and substantial town takes about 10 to 15 minutes where there are all the usual big town department stores, so our visits into Rochefort town are only for essential reasons as we much prefer walking and exploring the areas nearer the marina.
One slight problem with visiting Rochefort is the tidal difficulty of leaving Rochefort whilst still being able to access St. Denis or St. Martin on the same tide. One of the solutions is to put into La Rochelle to take advantage of its 24hr access. W’ve always enjoyed our visits to Rochefort.
Article by Nick Fletcher 2021
We were stuck by weather in La Rochelle marina so took the bus, euro 5 each way.
The marina. Well, we were there when the drizzle was worse than rain and the far riverbank would disappear in the mist, so make allowances for the following. Perhaps.
The boat yard would be a great place to investigate the physics of decaying GRP, and in places looked more like a boat graveyard. The inner basin, which may be a safe and cheap place to store a boat was a demonstration of just how green topsides can get, on some white boats…well, there was no white. Perhaps a wonderful meander up the river and through the reeded banks makes up for it all, but I think we would have just turned 180 degrees and left, and damn the tides.
That said, the surrounding old town architecture is wonderful, so do please visit and do visit the Royal Cordiage. .a history of hemp rope making and admire the truly fantastic architecture. Just maybe, not by boat.
Gavin May kindly provided the above report – 2021
Tél. 05 46 83 99 96 or 06 86 01 64 29
VHF canal 09
Located on the right bank of the River Charente 15 M away from Fort Boyard and Île d’Aix, Rochefort Marina is the ideal shelter for boats.
- 273 pontoon berths, 170 berths ashore – 30 visitor – electricity, toilets and shower facilities
- Accredited “ Blue Flag” and a member of the “Passeport Escales” scheme
- Locks open ¾ hour before HW. From 5:30 am – 10:30 pm in high season
- Opening schedules from April to Sept. incl. (consult Capitainerie, open on request from Oct. – March incl.)