I’m quickly learning that a real “plan” is perhaps not necessary in order to see beautiful things in France – you can just pick a random place and go.
In this case, my only plan was “let’s do something” and Alexis took charge! He wanted a town that was new for both of us, so slightly south of La Rochelle, he made lunch reservations in Rochefort. While prices are a little steep near the coast, the lunch was excellent. I was jealous when his cake came out, but it turned out that my mascarpone was divine, absolutely divine!
We took a little walk around Rochefort, which I realized was the city where the Hermoine replica boat is. The Hermoine was originally sent by France to help the Americans in the American Revolution (for those who’ve forgotten, the French originally helped us win a war). A replica was built and it sailed to the US and back in 2015, but the ship remains in Rochefort and can be toured. There was no tour for us, but I have a lovely photo with it!
After a brief walk around the town (and the purchase of two French books much more suitable for my current reading level), we decided that this wasn’t ACTUALLY the beach, looked at the map, and decided that this tiny finger of land looked interesting to see. We didn’t see the island out in the water (or paid no attention to it) until we arrived at the end and people were walking out onto a raised “road” across the tidal flats.
When we first entered the town, I was surprised by the resemblance to other French coastal towns that I’ve seen – it reminded me a little of the outer portion of Biarritz (clearly, nothing like the main town there though). As you can see from the location of the blue dot on the map, after arriving in the town and going to the very end of the tip, we decided to head out to see the fort. The tide was out when we started, stranding this fisherman’s hut far from the water! I had no idea what it even was, so having a Frenchie along was quite useful.
Even though we were about halfway across when the tide clearly started coming in, we were on a mission to make it to the fort! Despite the fact that all of the people with oyster buckets were clearly headed in the other direction, Alexis was confident that we wouldn’t get trapped, so I took his word for it and kept going (to be fair, we had cell service, so it couldn’t be THAT difficult to get a boat out there if needed). It turns out, it’s about a 30 minute walk out to the fort over a road that has disintegrated badly over the years; however, it’s great exercise and lovely views all along the way.
I haven’t really tried just picking a random spot on the map before and going there, but it turned out to be a fun idea. I saw my first oyster farms, a random abandoned fort and the island had lovely views of the bridges from the coast out to the two big islands in the area . . . plus it was kind of cool to WALK out to a spot shown as an island in the middle of the ocean on a map. To get a feel for the distance, in the photo below that white dot is a van – look past it on the horizon and you can see the buildings where the car park is.
And not a photo from the road trip, but rather just a typical Saturday afternoon in France from the day before. There are certain parts of living in France that are EXACTLY what you expect. The French cafe scene is one of those things! People really do just sit (even on the same side of the table), chat and just watch the world go by. Truly one of my favorite things about French culture!