“Don't be intimidated by what you don't know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else”

Nr 67. Fort Boyard & la Rochelle

After being on the wharf with the boat at Les Sables d’Olonne, we were keen to start sailing again! And we had a nice sail to la Rochelle, Ile-d’Aix, Fort Boyard and Ile d’Oléron! I’d like to highlight Fort Boyard and la Rochelle.

Fort Boyard

Because this Fort is known for it’s TV-series that we already watched 30 years ago when we went on holiday with my parents in France. It gives me nice memories like remembering the French house we rented and watching this exiting show. It was later on Dutch TV as well, but it never had the same feeling for me, because I connected it to the French sun, holiday time and relax time!

So when I found out we could sail around the Fort, I absolutely wanted to do that. The Fort is built on a sandbank and is 68 meters long, 31 meters wide and 20 meters high.  The whole island is exactly the fort. So you can’t tie your boat to a jetty or something, you can’t stop at this Fort to visit it. The fort was build in 1801 in Napoleon time to protect the mainland, because the guns at that time couldn’t  shoot that far to stop enemy ships on time. So the French needed a protection fort, further of the coast to do the first shooting. Later, guns improved, so the fort lost it’s function.   

La Rochelle

On our sail to la Rochelle, we noticed that the color of the sea changed from green to darkblue. It has to do with sunlight, depth and soil. Sometimes the water can look black or a bit silver like mercury. It never gets boring! And what a nice city la Rochelle is! We stayed in the harbor for 3 days and enjoyed the sunshine and the lively surroundings. It’s funny to mention that we thought we had chosen an international name for our boat, Horizon. But in Germany, that added the letter ‘t’ at the end (Horizont), in Norway they seem to are not that familiar with the letter ‘z’, so it was Horisont. And in France, when I say ‘Horizon’, they sometimes skip the ‘H’. Another misunderstanding in France is our Dutch flag. When we are in the harbor and people pass by, they think we are French: the Dutch flag hanging down on it’s pole with no wind really looks like the French flag :).

Back to La Rochelle: it has an old city center and when you sail in the harbor there are 2 impressive towers on each side of the old harbor. You can walk along the quays and there are restaurants everywhere. We also stopped at the 19th century Les Halles, the Markethall, where they still sell fruits, fish and bread every morning. We bought skewers (in French “brochettes”, which sounds more charming 😊) with all kinds of marinated meat for a BBQ on our boat that evening. The streets in the old center have been built with arcades on the side of the road, for the merchants to sit in the shade of out of the rain.

La Rochelle was a lovely city to just stroll around, watch the beautiful old streets and houses and enjoy the harbor area!