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What to do in Rochefort - France ?

10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime - France

What are the 10 must-do walks during your stay in Charente-Maritime ?

10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime : the discovery of our beautiful department inevitably passes by Rochefort. This town, centrally located in the department, is full of history, rich in an exceptional heritage and of course very famous for its thermal baths. It opens you its points of interest and wealth that you will discover in the course of these inescapable strolls.

Not far from the city, and for lovers of nature walks, we advise you to go and lose yourself on the smallest island of Charente-Maritime, Madame Island, or to go around Aix Island for a day without car. 

To finish in beauty, only 30 minutes from Rochefort you will discover one of the prettiest walks you can do in Charente-Maritime, "Le chemin des Douaniers" in Saint-Palais sur Mer.

Discovery, curiosity, or simply relaxation: here are the 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime.

1 Walk in Rochefort and on the banks of the Charente

Rochefort is indeed the must-visit city in Charente-Maritime. Head down to the pretty little marina and take the Charente Trail. A soothing and rejuvenating walk that will allow you to discover the jewels that border the Charente River.

panneau chemin de charente, départ de la balade en bord de Charente
Follow the path along the Charente for an unforgettable walk

This beautiful walk will take you through the riches of the city of Rochefort. You will travel back in time as you discover successively the marvels of architecture and diversity that are the Arsenal des Mers, the Corderie Royale, the canals that border the river and the Transporter Bridge.

Once past the Corderie Royale, push on to the magnificent naval gardens and go down to the Arsenal des Mers where the Hermione frigate and the world's only accrobranche (tree-climbing course) are majestically positioned.

If you wish to extend your hike after the Transporter Bridge, continue along the Charente and the many canals, pass under the Martrou Viaduct and push on to the lagoon, a must-see birdwatching point.

Then cross the boulevard (be careful, it is a dangerous crossing) and walk along the Cap Vert greenhouses and the canals to reach the city center by entering the Cour Roy Bry. You will then reach the heart of downtown Rochefort : the famous Place Colbert.

Bâtiment de la corderie royale Rochefort, une balade incontournable à Rochefort
The incredible building of the Corderie Royale

2 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime : take a tour of Île Madame

15 minutes from Rochefort and the Bleu Soleil Rochefort residence is the very pretty little Madam Island, which has remained very wild and is a paradise for walkers in search of peace, quiet and surprising landscapes.

Keep an eye on the tide schedule because the "Passe aux Boeufs" which allows you to join the island Madame on foot, starting from the Port des Barques parking lot, is covered at high tide. You will be able to park in the immediate vicinity of this passage and will take it on foot for about 900 m to reach the island.

There you will discover on the smallest island of Charente-Maritime (800 m on only 600) a small wild rock which will amaze you by its various landscapes and panoramas.

The tide times and the accessibility of the pass are posted at the entrance of the parking lot, keep them in mind or you will be stuck on the island for the duration of the tide. Note that this is also an experience to try...

During your visit, in one direction or the other, as you wish, anyway only one road goes around the island Madame, do not hesitate to visit the only farm of the island, an aquaculture farm where you will be able to taste and buy oysters, various and varied salts (fleur de sel, flavored salts...) and salicorne.

It takes about 2 hours to walk around Madam Island. Take the opportunity to admire the beautiful bright colours of the "carrelets", the panoramas that have remained wild and preserved and smell the salty and iodized air of this beautiful place on the Atlantic coast. Discovering Madam Island remains a must among these 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime.

Ile madame vue du ciel
The Apparts Bleu Soleil Rochefort are only 20 minutes away from Madame Island

3 Enjoy one of the most beautiful markets in France in Rochefort

The beautiful market of Rochefort won the regional final of "your most beautiful market".

Come and meet its many merchants and craftsmen on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, and you will discover the most beautiful market in the southwest.

Visit the covered market, under the halls, you will find all the food trades. Fishmongers and their magnificent banks of fish and seafood. Butchers and butchers and their extraordinary creations and preparations, you can even make a tasting of oysters or other local products. At the time of the aperitif the whole embellished with a small glass of wine... and here it is that is the life.

Rochefort Market stretches the length of Charles de Gaulle Avenue. An incredible amount of local producers of vegetables and fruits, prepared foods, and delicatessen of all kinds.

Our advice for a successful tasting : the King of Boudin, in his truck and always with his good mood and his incredible sense of trade. Indeed, the Moulineau house will delight you with its countless delicious cold cuts. For a sweet touch, stop at the Maligorne stand: you will find brioches, vendean cakes like you have never eaten before, but also various pastries all succulent. Don't forget the oyster tasting under the Halles.

A faire absolument : le marché de Rochefort
The Rochefort market: one of the most beautiful in France

4 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime discover the Island of Aix an experience not to be missed

Are you looking for a getaway close to nature? You are in the right place, Aix Island is the ideal place to recharge your batteries and enjoy a quiet stroll. On foot or by bike, whatever the case, the island of Aix can be visited without a car. 

You will embark from Fouras, 15 minutes from Rochefort and the Bleu Soleil Apartments for a 20-minute boat trip. Then you will disembark on this magnificent island which takes the shape of a crescent, a secluded, peaceful place which has remained very natural and protected.

Allow about 2h30 (3h for the most contemplative among you) to walk around the island of Aix. This walk will offer you peace and quiet because you will not see any car. Whether you are on foot or by bike, the superb landscapes of the Atlantic coast will give you a glimpse of the Charente-Maritime seen from the inside.

L'ile d'Aix vue du ciel
The island of Aix seen from the sky

The 7 km of footpaths on the Ile d'Aix contribute to its classification in the list of Remarkable Natural Sites. Discover its varied landscapes and admire the view of the most beautiful sites of Charente-Maritime such as Fort Boyard but also Oleron Island and further north Ré Island.

And for those who wish to rest more than to walk, discover the two beautiful beaches of the island of Aix: the Anse de la Croix or the Grande Plage.

History buffs and lovers of architecture will also find their happiness by taking the time to visit the famous Fort Liédot located only 1/2 hour from the port. You will travel in time by discovering this place full of history (free visit or with a guide) and its so original and particular architecture. Children will be delighted because the visit can also be organized around challenges to discover with parents and riddles to solve.

Don't forget to take a look at the exhibition whose visit is included in the entrance ticket (even in the free visit), the Fort Boyard spirit game room and several original creative workshops. The island of Aix, perhaps one of the most beautiful discoveries among these 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime.

Ile d'Aix à visiter pour les amoureux de la nature
View of Fort Boyard from the Ile d'Aix

5 Discover the history of Rochefort by visiting the Arsenal des Mers

From the Apparts Bleu Soleil, go down 200 m and you will arrive at the small marina of Rochefort. Strolling along its quays is really pleasant, as the roadways and the (exceptional) buildings around them have been recently renovated. 

Extraordinary Corderie Royale

On the right side of the harbor you will already see the most magical building of Rochefort, the emblematic Corderie Royale and its 374 m length. Classified as a historical building since 1967, you will discover the magnificent sea library as well as exhibitions and the Rochefort media library.

Continue your way along the Charente, and you will arrive at the heart of the Rochefort arsenal. You will see the 3 dry docks, those basins which allow to receive ships for their construction or their maintenance. The replica of the Hermione frigate spent many years there during its construction.

Panneau de l'entrée de l'arsenal des Mers, une balade à faire absolument à Rochefort
Arsenal des Mers, a must-see discovery in Rochefort

Magical frigate Hermione

This famous Hermione, if it is present during your stay can of course be visited. You will board this ship of the seas and discover its operation, its armament, its voyages, its history and of course the life of the sailors on board.

The visit is free on its upper decks but you will learn much more by taking the guided tour and have privileged access to places you never imagined.

Continue your visit with the National Museum of the Navy in which you will discover an impressive collection of model ships, weapons and various works of art. You will learn about the history of Rochefort, a historical and military city.

A unique activity in the world takes place on the site of the arsenal of the seas, the youngest will be delighted, it is the accro-mats. It is a accrobranche built directly in one of the refit forms and has the shape of a boat with its hull and masts. Climb up to several dozen meters from the ground and admire the view over the site of the Arsenal des Mers de Rochefort, to Tonnay-Charente on one side and the Pont Transbordeur on the other.

Frégate Hermione Rochefort
Frigate l'Hermione is just a stone's throw from Bleu Soleil Rochefort Apartments and the Transporter Bridge

6 Cross the Charente river on the transporter bridge, a timeless experience

If you are looking for an original ride that you can't do anywhere else in France, visit the Transporter Bridge of Rochefort / Echillais. It is indeed the last bridge of this type still in function in France, one of the last in the world. It is one of the historical references of our beautiful city of Rochefort. As you can see, it is a must see..

If you wish to enhance your visit with a nice walk, we advise you to start from the Corderie Royale, which is located only 2 minutes walk from the Bleu Soleil Rochefort apartments. You will walk along the banks of the Charente River, passing through the heart of the Arsenal des Mers de Rochefort. You will enjoy calm and relaxing moments in the marshes and canals that you will cross.

Admire as you approach it, this feat of architecture, dating from early 1900, which allowed from the beginning of the 20th century to connect Rochefort to Echillais and this without hindering navigation on the river Charente.

Recently restored, the Transporter bridge of Rochefort has recovered, thanks to this work which lasted several years, its shape as it was originally in 1900. 

Board the carry-cot which is suspended by cables from the deck. This one connects the two pillars on each bank of the river, about 50 meters above the ground. Here you go for a crossing like you have never done on board this gondola which will move slowly at about 2 meters above the water. It will allow you to reach the other bank of the Charente in a few minutes.

Que faire en Charente Maritime : Pont Transbordeur Rochefort Echillais
The transporter bridge, one of the last in activity

7 The Citadel of Brouage, one of the most beautiful villages of France to discover

Take a look at this photo, alone it should make you want to go and lose yourself in the small streets of this old walled city that is Brouage.

In the 16th century the place was bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. Located between Rochefort and Oleron Island, the fortified city of Brouage was created to become a new port for the salt trade. Then this place was transformed into a fortified citadel because of numerous conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in particular.

Go and stroll through its magnificent streets and especially discover its ramparts which are still in perfect condition. They are, in fact, the main attraction of the Citadel of Brouage with their more than 2 km long that you can survey.  

But during your walk you will also discover many small huts and houses occupied by craftsmen and tradesmen who will present their creations. 

Numerous buildings still bear witness to this history, including the forges and the old powder magazine. As for the Food Hall and its exhibition, it offers you to discover the history of this unusual city. 

The church of Brouage is also worth the detour of course, you can discover an exhibition that recalls the installation of the first colonies in Canada and the founding of the city of Quebec by Samuel Champlain who was originally from Brouage.

La citadelle de Brouage, un des plus beaux villages de France
The citadel of Brouage

8 Visit Mornac-sur-Seudre for an incredible ride

Mornac-sur-Seudre is also a small village classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Come and lose yourself in these beautiful little cobbled streets: a magnificent medieval village with incredible charm, preserved, and full of history. Located on the banks of the Seudre, a small river in Charente-Maritime, Mornac sur Seudre is an old fishing and trading port that has managed to keep all its character over the years.

It is impossible for you not to be conquered by its charm. Indeed its paved lanes and its old houses on the frontages of which grow hollyhocks in summer as well as its entirely restored medieval market hall make of this village an unavoidable stage when one has decided to visit the Charente-Maritime on foot.

Mornac sur Seudre, its artists' houses

In these streets, as you wander around, you will discover many artists' houses or craftsmen's stalls. And for the most courageous, you will be able to leave in a loop a little longer if you wish it which one calls the pedestrian cut and which will enable you to make a small excursion of approximately 5 km.

Today, the commune of Mornac sur Seudre is essentially focused on oyster farming like many communes in the region, but also on salt production. Needless to say that if you want to taste good oysters or possibly a good éclade, you are at the right place. 

You understood it, Mornac sur Seudre is a typical and very pleasant village in which it is good to stroll and get lost in its alleys. This visit will remain unmissable among these 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime. Don't hesitate to visit this beautiful village and to sit down along the Seudre canal in one of the small restaurants along it to taste its regional specialties.

Cabanes colorées Mornac sur Seudre
The coloured huts at Mornac sur Seudre

9 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime: visit the Château d'Oléron for an unforgettable stroll

The Château d'Oléron is the first town when you enter the island from the mainland. Don't hesitate to plan a whole day there for a walk in its fortifications and in the middle of the colorful huts of fishermen, craftsmen and small traders.

When you arrive at the Château d'Oléron we advise you to park on the large parking lot and to leave your car for the day. Indeed it is much easier to go around on foot, which is the essence of this article and its advice for nice walks.

The Château d'Oléron, a history

By visiting the Château d'Oléron you will plunge into the history of the island and particularly of this commune in which you will be able to stroll through the streets and visit the citadel which it is imperative to have seen at least once. You will stroll along the ramparts and will be able to admire these superb constructions and the stone architecture of the chapel.

Then, once you have visited the citadel, continue your wanderings by passing through the port. You will discover many oyster huts which today wear a multitude of bright colors, each one nicer than the other. We feel that there is life. Some craftsmen and tradesmen have settled in these old oyster huts in order to devote themselves to their art. Take the time to go and meet them to admire their creations and their work, there is really something for everyone between jewelry, leather work or cutlery.

Les cabanes colorée du Château d'Oléron à découvrir dans les 10 balades à faire absolument en Charente-Maritime
The colourful huts of the Château d'Oléron to discover in the 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime

10 Discover the "sentier des Douaniers" in Saint-Palais sur Mer for an unforgettable walk

Not to be missed among the 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime, the Chemin des Douaniers in Saint Palais sur mer s one of the most beautiful walks to do in Charente-Maritime.  

We advise you to start from the lake, possibly to go around it, for a warm-up in the quiet, at side of the center of Saint Palais to then go to the beach of the center (beach of the office) starting point of this surprising walk along the Charentaise coast, on the rocks and in search of the best points of view for extraordinary photos.

Carrelets à saint palais
The "carrelets" at Saint Palais sur Mer

To reach the path, take the road on the right (when you are facing the beach) and go up to the customs house. If you are lucky, maybe there will be an exhibition in the customs house, indeed it is regularly the case: the last ones to date: Titouan Lamazou, Jephan de Villiers and CharlEli Couture...

The "sentier des Douaniers" in Saint-Palais sur Mer starts right in front of the customs house and winds for several miles to the Grande Côte. At the beginning of the walk you will be impressed by the shape of the trunks of the pines that run along the path. Indeed, shaped by the wind they grow, for some almost horizontally.

Voir le pont du diable à st palais : une balade à faire absolument en Charente-Maritime
The Devil's Bridge at Saint Palais sur Mer

Once past the trees, you will have an incredible view, because the background sound of the waves that you had at the beginning of this walk, is joined by the call of the ocean and the pretty "carrelets" that you can admire in the distance. Then you will take the small bridge, climb the rocks and finally arrive at your first stop (if you wish), the Platin beach.

The thing to do here is to go down the stairs to the beach and climb the rocks that are on the beach to go admire from above the famous Devil's Bridge, a bridge formed of rocks and under which the waves come bursting.

To resume the walk you have the choice to go back up on the customs path or to go along the beach, feet in the water, and to come out at the end to join the path and continue this beautiful walk. On the menu, "carrelets", rocks, ocean as far as the eye can see, a panorama on Le Verdon sur Mer on the other side of the estuary and a view on the Cordouan lighthouse. You will then pass by the "carrelets" at the level of the "puits de l'Auture" and will go up towards the road to follow it and finally arrive at the end of the magnificent beach of the "Grande Côte de Saint Palais".

Balade sur les rochers, plage du Platin à St Palais
Walk on the rocks at the end of the Platin beach in Saint Palais sur Mer

As you can see, the Charente-Maritime has an extraordinary variety of landscapes and points of interest, each more interesting than the next.

To spend an unforgettable stay in Charente-Maritime and Rochefort, discover some of these 10 must-do walks in Charente-Maritime.

To allow you to discover them at best, choose a central accommodation on the department. We will welcome you in our fully renovated apartments and equipped with high standard services.