If you want to see how and why Rochefort came about and used to look, then start your trip by visiting the local museum.
What - a museum? Yes, at Musée Hèbre de Saint-Clément, you can see a 1/500 scale model of the town as it was in the early 19th century. It's a scale model showing a living naval port - including the dry docks where the replica Hermione (of Lafayette fame) is being built. And you can see how the entrance to these docks (now silted up and blocked) should look from 2012, when Hermione is due to be launched.
Apart from this detail you can see the old town, complete with windmills, arsenal, etc. And then there is the rest of an interesting museum collection to see. Many travellers started and finished their journies at Rochefort. And they donated their finds to the town. They have some excellent pieces from the Pacific.
If you want a preview of the model, then try www.alienor.org/articles/planrelief/choix.htm
If in Rochefort you must visit the dry docks where a (near) replica of la Fayette's ship, Hermione is being hand-built. This venture started several years ago, with the selection of oak trees to be used in its construction, and has continued in hand-crafting this ocean-going vessel (the original did, after all, cross the Atlantic). The aim is that the Hermione will follow in la Fayette's traces, to America.
It's being built under cover and has now reached a point where the whole is easily perceived, even if there's still a lot to do - eg you can see the craftsmen building the cannon and other smaller pieces needed to complete the vessel.
You can get reduced entry price if you book to see the Corderie Royale as well (see other entry).
5 Reviews and Opinions
55 rue du Dr Peletier, Rochefort, 17300, France
Good for: Couples
Zone du Brillouet, Rochefort, 17300, France
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
The rooms are decent size and clean. The location is not really far from the centre but it's quite a...more
Rue Audebert, Rochefort, 17300, France
Good for: Families
NO! This is not the right hotel for you. The hotel charges for WIFI access, about 10 euros for 3...more
If you are coming from Paris, you have to go to Gare Montparnasse where they have daily scheduled trips to west central France (La Rochelle, Bordeux, Rochefort, Nantes, etc). Rochefort does not have public transportation that could possibly take you around this small city.
Gare de Rochefort is centrally located. Hotels are within walking distance. This train station is fairly small, one track going south to Bordeux and one track going north to Paris.
Stores close generally at 7 p.m. Plan your day really well because most places shut down by 7 the latesttttttt. No 7-11 or 24 hour stores in the area. You can still rent a video after because they have a "vending" machine for that.
Save Mother Earth is always the theme all over Europe. France is nothing different. When you go to supermarkets (big or small stores), you have to buy bags (10 cents per bag) to carry out your purchased items. Best advise is to bring your own bag or recycle the same one that you previously used in that store. Else, you're gonna walk out of the store with a handful of food items, practise your balancing skills and maybe discover that you can Walk Like An Egyptian.
Are you a fan of this 1960's cult film; and do you want to see the places that were used as settings for the film?
Then do visit Rochefort - and download the iPhone/iPad/smartphone app showing the sites of Rochefort (Visit Rochefort Ocean). Not only does this show you where the various film sequences were shot, it offers extracts from the film, stories of the shooting, words of the songs and more!
NB if you don't know the film .... let's just say it's an "acquired taste" (ie you love it or hate it). See the clips on the app and make up your own mind.
When you visit Rochefort you can now download a free (note, free) iPhone/iPad app. It lists some 75 major sites and is accompanied by text, film, photos and representations of the ancient town and around.
If you don't have an iPhone/iPad you can rent a pre-loaded iPhone from the Tourist Office in town, or at the "transbordeur" (see below).
As well as a Google Maps guide to the various sites, there's also a plan of the town as it was in the 17th century. There's also some extras for iPhone users, based on various local "themes" (eg the "transbordeur" and the Arsenal).
The "transbordeur" is a platform which used to carry cars, lorries and people across the Charente. It's one of only a few left in the world; and is now used only for pedestrians and bikes.
There's currently (May 2011) a general Smartphone app in preparation: to be called "Rochefort Ocean Tour". This shows hotels and restaurants as well as the info above.