Bucolic walk in paddle or canoe-kayak on the Rompsay Canal in La Rochelle

La Rochelle
Bucolic walk in paddl ...

With its coastline bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the maritime city of La Rochelle offers a plethora of water activities to all sports and nature lovers. However, when the conditions at sea do not allow it, the Canal de Rompsay is an ideal alternative to take a breath of fresh air and find yourself in the heart of nature in the heart of La Rochelle, time for a ride on stand- up-paddle or canoeing !

Discovery of the Rompsay Canal over the water


la rochelle

The city of La Rochelle

The canal de rompsay

Canoeing is easy

A favorite spot for joggers and cyclists , the Rompsay Canal is a haven of peace that is also explored on the water. Paddle in hand, standing on my stand-up-paddle board - the SUP for the initiates -, accompanied by two friends in a kayak , I decided to go up from La Rochelle to take full advantage of its calm and peaceful waters, to discover a wild universe close to the city center. Here no waves or wind, which facilitates the slide for a ride of a few hours, although it is quite possible to row to the Pont de Mouillepied in Dompierre-sur-Mer for a journey of a day . Indeed, along 24 km, this historic canal connects La Rochelle to Marans by crossing the towns of Périgny, Dompierre-sur-Mer, Saint-Ouen d'Aunis and Andilly.

rompsay channel

Sometimes we pass under tunnels


The history of the canal which was a commercial failure in the 19th century

If today the canal is perfect for leisure and relaxation , this ambitious human work is the fruit of a project launched in 1806, the construction of which extended over 82 long years of labor until 1888. Second channel Charente-Maritime by its length of 24km between Marans and La Rochelle, this canal is what is called a junction channel bypassing the Sèvre Niortaise to the Atlantic Ocean. Originally dug to transport goods to the old port of La Rochelle, the Rompsay canal will be partially commissioned in 1875 and connected to the basin afloat via the bastion Saint-Nicolas in 1888. However, the volume and traffic planned in barge was never reached, it was a real commercial failure undermined by the arrival of the railroad , then gradually left in disuse.

It was not until the 1970s that the 8km that connect the Mouillepieds bridge to the Rompsay lock are classified as "Natural Site" and its protected and landscaped banks, to the delight of walkers , cyclists and joggers. . On this greenway, the cycle paths EuroVelo 1 (or Vélodyssée ®) and the Vélo Francette ® follow the canal along a marked route to Dompierre-sur-Mer and to the gates of Marais Poitevin in Marans for experienced cyclists.


An old photo of the canal in Marans


3-hour round trip paddle and canoeing

From La Rochelle and Périgny, several boat launches specially arranged on this 8km navigable section provide access to the canal with our boats. If you do not have canoe-kayak or stand-up-paddle board, a canoe base , located in La Rochelle, just before the Salines bridge , offers rental equipment from April to September. We continue our trip over the water, passing under bridges and through a long tunnel , the front row to observe the gray herons, nutria, ducks, swans and other waterfowl that have taken up residence on the banks of the canal.

nutria

And no, it's not a beaver!


A real moment of conviviality and relaxation in the shade of ash trees, abalone and lush vegetation bordering the canal! 2km further, the canal locks, dominated by bike paths on each side. After an hour and a half of stroll, it is time for us to turn around and turn back. No need to be athletic, rowing is easy on this stretch without power . In places, the water is covered with green water lentils and aquatic plants that give the canal an intimate , almost magical atmosphere .


rompsay channel

Intimate and magical atmosphere

Lentils on the Rompsay canal


Pleasant at any time of day, I will return to explore the Rompsay channel paddle at sunset to enjoy again the sensations of immersion in the wilderness, with the arrival a splendid view of the two towers of La Rochelle on the Old Port!

The channel at sunset

the old Port

The old port of La Rochelle


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Article written by Lesley Williamson for the Guide Charente Maritime


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