Rochefort was an important military base from the 17th century until 1926. Now a fairly large yet quiet town on the Charente estuary, the area is great for walking and cycling. A major attraction in recent years, has been the replica ship Hermione. The original Hermione which set sail from Rochefort to America in 1780 carried General Lafayette, who went on to help secure American independence. Construction of the replica vessel, which carried on for many years, was completed in 2015 whereupon the boat spent the summer in the United States. It returned to Rochefort in August 2015 and is once again an interesting attraction.
Aside from visitng the Hermione, there is still plenty to do and see in and around Rochefort, including the Royal Rope Works (Corderie Royale), built in 1669 and once one of the longest buildings in Europe - in order to create ropes of around 200m in length for the navy. The original building was partly destroyed during the second world war, but has been restored and now contains a nautical museum.
Our personal favourites include the Transbordeur Bridge, which is located just to the southern side of the town. This is one of only eight remaining working versions of this type of bridge in the world, and the only surviving one in France. Nowadays it no longer carries cars, but is fully functioning for foot passengers and bicycles. If you are planning on visiting, please check this page first for opening times.
Also, 20 minutes further south (by car) you will find the walled city of Brouarge: once on the waters' edge, but now far inland, this small town was fortified on the orders of Cardinal Richelieu as a catholic bastion against the nearby protestant Rochefort. Unfortunately, as the waters receded, the town fell into disrepair. It is now a lively village with well preserved walls, and lots of tourist shops and cafes.
About twenty minutes to the northwest, a visit to Fouras with its lovely beach, castle and pleasant pedestrianised street, never disappoints.
Rochefort is around 55 minutes from Villemorin. There is plenty of free parking near the tourist office (set satnav for Avenue Marie-François Sadi Carnot)