The Corderie Royale of Rochefort

Rochefort
The Corderie Royale o ...

Under the reign of Louis XIV, the French navy reached heights of glory and power such that France was able to confront on land and at sea almost all of Europe's naval fleets. For the Sun King, the construction of the Arsenal maritime de Rochefort in 1666 had no financial limits: on the banks of the Charente, the Corderie Royale gives a brilliant overview!

A veritable vessel of stone, the Corderie Royale is the jewel of the maritime arsenal of Rochefort and above all the longest factory in Europe with its 374 meters in length. A masterpiece of military architecture, this exceptional heritage building opens its doors to history buffs and the curious for a true immersion in the epic of the sailing navy, from the time when the Corderie Royale manufactured the ropes of the great sailboats and warships of the Royal Navy. A trip to the past awaits us!


The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort

Mecca of the Royal Navy: the "Versailles of the sea" of the Sun King

Colbert, minister of Louis XIV wanted to build the arsenal “the largest and most beautiful there is in the world”. It was on a loop of the Charente that he chose to build the arsenal which would give France a naval fleet worthy of the name. Between the opening of the Arsenal in 1669 and its closure in 1867, shipbuilding was the main economic activity of the town of Rochefort (fr): nearly 550 warships were built there over the centuries! On the sidelines of this industry, many related industries are developing around it, whether sailmakers or ropemakers. Due to its operation, the old rope factory consists of a long building 374 meters long, because the hemp ropes had to be twisted over several hundred meters!


The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort


After a long restoration between 1976 and 1986, the Corderie now houses several administrative entities such as the Chamber of Commerce, the media library, the offices of the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) and the Conservatoire du Littoral, as well as the Center International Sea that we are about to explore! After a pleasant walk through the Jardin des Retours which encloses it, let's now go inside this building - listed as a Historic Monument - to soak up the history of this unique place in France where all the ropes were made. warships for two centuries.


The Corderie Royale of Rochefort

An immersive and interactive visit!

Much more than a classic museum, the Center International de la Mer welcomes the public of all ages in a scripted space with interactive multimedia elements in order to enrich both the experience and the knowledge of visitors. Its permanent collections unroll a slew of models, machines and images with the help of which we cross two centuries of rope production. As soon as we enter, we cross the door of a small room where a film on the rope industry and the historical context is projected. Then, we progress through the various museum spaces to better understand the transformation of the raw material, hemp, into ultra-resistant ropes, through the different stages of spinning, laying and seamanship.


The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort


Indeed, in a semi-darkness reminiscent of the atmosphere of the workshops of the time, the museum is full of spectacular displays and fascinating information. To familiarize ourselves with this essential navigation industry, everything is designed in an educational way: manipulation of objects and ropes to appreciate the texture, edutainment terminals, holographic projections of ropemakers who tell us about their job, interactive games and practical workshops. transformation of raw hemp into yarn and then into rope!


The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort


To learn more about the use of ropes, the seamanship workshop offers demonstrations of marine knots with real sailors. Part of the exhibition is moreover devoted to these thousands of marine knots with different functionalities. A whole immersive experience that transports us to the golden age of the Rochefort shipyards!


The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort
The Corderie Royale of Rochefort


After this fascinating visit, we continue our discovery of the maritime heritage of the town of Rochefort, a veritable open-air museum of the great era of the Royal Navy. No time to waste, the Hermione frigate, the Museum of the School of Naval Medicine of Rochefort or the National Museum of the Navy are waiting for us!

If you have the chance to extend your stay in Rochefort, don't miss the unusual Musée des Commerces d'Autrefois!


Practical information :

On site you will also find the Corderie Royale bookstore, the Cordages store and the restaurant Les Longitudes open for lunch.

  • Access: Rue Audebert
  • Phone: 05 46 87 01 90


Did you like our report? Find more on the Guide Charente-Maritime blog. Connect to the Charente Maritime Guide Facebook page to be kept up to date with our news. We are also on Instagram @guidecharentemaritime

 

Article and photos prepared by Lesley Williamson for the Guide Charente Maritime


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