Rochefort Océan, home of Fort Boyard

Encouraged by the air of adventure and faraway lands, head out on the water in Rochefort Océan. The renowned spa resort of Rochefort opens onto the Charente estuary (straddled by the latest transporter bridge in France), the ocean, Île d’Aix and Île Madame.

Chosen by Colbert to become the largest military arsenal in the kingdom, this Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (Town of Art and History) was also the home port of the famous frigate Hermione. Spend some unforgettable moments with the family high up on the Accro Mâts, and don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Royal Ropery before you leave either.

Children will be fascinated to discover how they made the huge great ropes for the French royal fleet. Has the 3D tour of Pierre Loti’s house at the Musée Hèbre inspired you to do some travelling?

What to do in and around Rochefort

Then prepare to set sail from Rochefort or the seaside resort of Fouras-les-Bains for the picturesque Île d’Aix. On this tiny island where cars are rarely seen, nature reigns supreme! Dotted with hollyhocks, maritime pines, cypresses and marshland flowers, Aix island is like an enormous garden – perfect for strolling, carriage rides and cycling, as well as swimming, fishing and boat trips.

On the very island where Napoleon stayed, you can pay a visit to the museum dedicated to the emperor. Don’t neglect Fort Liédot either, which was built to protect the bay of Île d’Aix and the Arsenal de Rochefort before Fort Boyard existed.

Although you can’t visit the famous stone vessel that stands in the middle of the Pertuis, halfway between the islands of Aix and Oléron, you can get closer by boat. It also lends its name to a sporting event, the Fort Boyard Challenge, which includes a host of tournaments for activities such as paddle boarding, Polynesian pirogues and windsurfing from the Grand Plage in Fouras-les-Bains.