Market Guide: Charente Maritime – Rochefort

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Formerly the site of the main naval shipyard during the royal era of France, Rochefort is a place that didn’t have a whole lot of attraction for the common man or woman outside of those mad on history until they rebuilt a lovely old ship and made the most of its fascinating military/naval history. The precise grid-like town was the site of the Corderie Royale – the supplier of all rope to the French Royal Navy in pre-Revolutionary times.

One notable connection with Ireland is in the form of the L’Hermione – a reconstructed frigate from the 1700s that you can see at the former shipyard (see above). Its sister ship – La Surveillante – came to grief in Bantry Bay in 1796 during the abortive attempt by Wolfe Tone, General Hoche & Co to bring early independence to Ireland. Cannon and other artefacts from the Surveillante are on display in Bantry House.

The regular market takes place throughout the year every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 07:00 to 13:00 on Avenue Charles de Gaulle. The markets here have been in existence for over 300 years and the dead-straight street of white limestone buildings makes for a great spot for a market that is covered but which spills out into the street with gay abandon during the summer months.

Weather permitting, there’s also an open-air market on Cours Roy Bry the second Thursday of the month and on Avenue Lafayette every Saturday.

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