The Rochefort Transporter Bridge: Fly over the Charente on its basket!

Rochefort
The Rochefort Transpo ...

Crossing a bridge is a unique experience. We are nowhere. Neither on one bank nor on the other, but on a path between two lands, basically separated and which should never have joined. Witnesses to the genius of their designers, these impressive buildings have become true works of art and authentic monuments to visit during a tourist stay. What would London be without its Tower Bridge? San Francisco without its Golden Gate? Or… Rochefort without its Transporter Bridge? And yes, there is no need to travel to the other side of the world to discover emblematic historic bridges: the exceptional "iron lady of Charente-Maritime" takes us on a unique journey aboard her century-old nacelle to cross the Charente between Rochefort and Echillais!


Rochefort Transporter Bridge

The Rochefort Transporter Bridge: a real architectural feat

The Pays Rochefortais is characterized by the large expanse of marshes which dominates the landscape as well as by the omnipresence of the Charente which flows into the Atlantic Ocean off Rochefort. Navigable over 170 km from Angoulême to Rochefort, this river constitutes a natural obstacle to cross to connect the left bank of Rochefort and the right bank of Echillais. In the 19th century, the ferry was the only way to cross. With the development of car traffic and increasingly dense traffic, the construction of a bridge becomes necessary. The challenge is to find a system allowing the crossing of the population without interfering with maritime navigation on the Charente river, in particular the ships of the Arsenal of Rochefort. With its excellent reputation acquired in particular by the construction of the transporter bridges of Bizerte (1898) and Rouen (1899), it is finally the project proposal of the engineer Ferdinand Arnodin which is retained in 1897.

Do you like bridges and civil engineering works? Discover the Tonnay Charente suspension bridge!


Rochefort Transporter Bridge
Rochefort Transporter Bridge


After 27 months of work, the Martrou Transporter Bridge was inaugurated on July 29, 1900. With an undeniable aesthetic dimension, this work made entirely of iron, steel and cast iron, proudly dominates the Charente landscape, like a "triumphal arch" from the century of industry. Due to its monumental aspect, the inevitable connection with the Eiffel Tower, ten years older than it, imposed itself in the minds of the public at the time. There is even talk of an “Eiffel Tower on the Charente”.

In 2014, the Rochefort Transporter Bridge received the first NF Environment Visitor Sites certification, issued by Afnor, to reward its commitment to the environment. The site is also labeled Quality Tourism and Tourism and Handicap for the 4 types of disability.

Continue your visit to Rochefort to discover a unique and unusual museum: The Museum of Old Businesses in Rochefort.

Cross the Rochefort Transporter Bridge on foot or by bike

Rochefort Transporter Bridge
Rochefort Transporter Bridge
Rochefort Transporter Bridge
Rochefort Transporter Bridge


This image perhaps illustrates the emotion that will grip you when you discover this gigantic metal bridge which spans the Charente, classified as a Historic Monument since 1976. It is the last building of this type still existing and functional in France!

In service from 1900 to 1967, it was then gradually abandoned in favor of other bridges that had become more useful, such as the Viaduct of the Charente estuary. Returned to service in 1994, then renovated between 2016 and July 2020, it now reveals all its former splendour. The Transbordeur Bridge is once again a privileged crossing point for many pedestrians and cyclists who wish to easily access both sides of the Charente in order to discover the territory of Rochefort Océan. Aboard this platform suspended between two metal pylons between which slides a trolley on rails, the crossing takes about ten minutes, offering a unique view of the river.

Practical and accessible to all, the Transporter Bridge is a scenic stop on several cycle routes and cycle routes such as the Vélodyssée and the Flow Vélo. Punctuated with artistic sculptures, the Sentier des Guetteurs around the bridge is a very popular walk, close to the river and nature.

Self-guided tour of La Maison du Transbordeur

Rochefort Transporter Bridge
Rochefort Transporter Bridge
Rochefort Transporter Bridge


At the foot of the bridge, La Maison du Transbordeur is an interpretation center whose museum space is entirely dedicated to the history of the Rochefort Transporter Bridge and its construction, but also dedicated to the seven other transporter bridges in the world and to the crossings of rivers globally. These architectural and technological prowess will no longer hold any secrets for you!

A 15-minute drive away, continue your outings with a visit to the pretty village of the fortified city of Brouage.


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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