Situated on the right bank of the Charente river, the town of Rochefort, or Rochefort-sur-Mer as it is sometimes called, is located in the heart of the Charente-Maritime on the Atlantic coast. As a harbour-town, the maritime history and heritage is an outstanding feature of this picturesque area. In the 18th Century, the “Hermione” frigate carried the Marquis La Fayette to meet George Washington with French reinforcements during the War of Independence. Rochefort’s maritime heritage naturally permeates much of its cultural attractions; the house of the writer and naval officer Pierre Loti can still be visited today. With a fascinating maritime history coupled with a rich cultural heritage this town provides the ideal spot for a restful cultural holiday or a cultural visit.


Rochefort has several man-made attractions for the interested visitor. The Pont du Martrou is a transporter bridge (Pont Transbordeur) and the last of its kind in France. This bridge is a national monument and a must for anyone visiting Rochefort. Located 3km from the centre of the town, the bridge is found on Avenue Jacques Demy.

Travellers can also visit the 17th century Royal Rope Factory, a 374 metre long building in the middle of the naval dockyard which was used to supply the Royal marine with ropes that were entirely manmade. Remarkably restored, this factory built between 1666 and 1670 was supported on huge oak beams because of the swampy landscape on which Rochefort is built.

Another must-see following the maritime theme, is the construction-site of the frigate Hermione, a ship which was originally built in Rochefort in 1748. The on-going project entails the construction of a fully functional and historically accurate replica of the historical ship, which is a lynch-pin of Rochefort’s maritime history. Work on this ambitious project is still underway, and visitors can view the progress for a small fee.

The house of the naval commander and author Pierre Loti is one of the most fascinating and colourful museum-houses in France. The well-travelled mariner took influences from Turkey, China and Japan to create a theatrical spectacle for any visitor. Located on rue Pierre Loti, this astonishing home of a key figure in Rochefort’s history must be seen to be appreciated.

Alternatively, those wishing to explore the marshlands on which Rochefort is built can explore one of the many walks or cycle paths of the area. There are also boat-trips along the Charente river offering views of the coastline and town.


Rochefort has a pedestrianised area near the seafront which houses most of the shops, bars and cafés in the area. Local souvenirs follow a typically maritime theme, offering naval memorabilia such as sextants, azimuths and binoculars.

Nightlife and Eating Out

The pedestrianised area which forms the hub of Rochefort is home to plenty of pleasant bars, cafés and restaurants. Many of the bars have outside seating, making them the perfect place to relax and watch the world go by.

Being a coastal town and a busy port, Rochefort is the ideal place for lovers of sea food, and there is no grander place to enjoy the fruits de la mer than than the 17th Century [ Hotel de la Corderie Royale]. Under the glass roof of the restaurant on the banks of the Charente you can enjoy the traditional yet innovative cooking made entirely using local produce. For a less expensive option, tourists can enjoy the comfortable [ Le Médoc], serving seafood with a Spanish flavour, the specialty being seafood paella.

Nightlife is not a main feature of this quiet harbour town, and be prepared for virtually everything to be closed on Sundays.

Tourist Information

  • Avenue Sadi-Carnot, Porte de l'Arsenal, 17300 Rochefort
  • Phone: +33 (0) 54699 0860
  • Fax: +33 (0) 54699 5264
  • Email:
  • Website: [] (French language)


Rochefort Airport is located 14km south of Rochefort. If travelling by road to the airport, take the A837 and the A10 motorway.

All car hire locations in France