Travelled : 48 miles
Visited : Rochefort, Coast Atlantic
Stay : Rochefort, municipal aire at the marina, €6 with services, N 46.56.477 W 0.57.476
Before leaving I’le de Re, we give everything a last charge up whilst we have the power. Then drain and fill, another ritual before departure. Both the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide have nice things to say about Rochefort and the GPS is set.
It’s only an hour away and once off the island it freeway all the way. The road follows the coast and we grab glimpse of the bays and a couple of headland cliffs, something we haven’t seen since leaving Normandy. We pass many French families lunching in the aires along the freeway. The French seem much more prepared to stop on the roadside, throw out a blanket and picnic than Australians.
I think I have this GPS thing half sorted, some guide books quote co-ordinates in degrees, minutes and seconds, other use degrees and decimals. Anyway the aires custom data base, I downloaded back home takes us straight to this lovely little aire at the marina in the old port of Rochefort. We take the only vacant spot in a line of 15 camper cars. The very kind French couple in the camper car next to us offered us some brochures from the tourist information and give us directions on getting there.
We walk the marina, lots of money floating about and lots more up on dollies being worked on. Anyway Rochefort was a major training and refitting base for the French Navy during the 17-1800th century. The Arsenal, a complex of historic naval buildings are beautifully maintained and used as a museum and other displays etc. Unlike many other French towns and cities that developed from smaller villages, Rochefort was purpose built by the Navy. The streets are wide and set out in a grid pattern. In other words it easy to find your way around. It has some of the most lovely gardens we have seen to date, the town square is wide and stylish, surrounded by cafés and restuarants.
The major attractions are the rebuilt bark, Chantier de I’Hermione and the Pont Transbordeur. Both on the River Charente which winds is way around Rochefort on three sides. After a dinner of BBQ chicken and vegetables purchased at the market earlier in the day, we had an early night. After breakfast in the morning we set off to ride the town’s parks and the cycle path that follows the Charente around Rocheford. We rode the Transbordeur across the Charente to the village of Echillais and it’s museum for the reasonable price of €2.60 each return.
Anyway it’s house keeping time before we sadly say goodbye to Rochefort and continue our journey south.