Charente-Maritime runs from the Gironde estuary north of Bordeaux to La Rochelle, where you can find our base in Marina Minimes. The cruising ground includes the Pertuis d’Antioche Strait, a popular Roman trading route and has changed hands between the British and French several times. The strait runs between Île de Ré and Île d’Oléron.
While sailing La Rochelle, the small island of Île de Ré needs to be on your itinerary. It is renowned for its sweeping sandy beaches, charming villages, colorful streets of hollyhocks, famed salt production and bike rides with impressive views. The star-shaped old walled city of the island’s main port, Saint-Martin, is UNESCO-protected. You can get a good view from the bell tower of Saint-Martin-de-Ré.
Nearby you can see Île d’Oléron, the country’s second largest island after Corsica. Spend time exploring its notable vineyards, fishing villages, fine sand beaches and pine forests. Make sure you don’t miss the return of the fishing boats and visit the oyster ports.
From here you can explore Fort Boyard, Napoleon Bonaparte’s oval-shaped fortification and scene of a popular TV show. You can also moor at the port of Rochefort to explore the life-size replica of Hermione, the famous frigate of General Lafayette.
To get away from it all, sail to the more remote Île-d’Aix, one of the 15 Ponant Islands. Relax without the noise of cars and enjoy secluded beaches, coastal paths and hidden bays where you will be almost alone.
Discover La Rochelle, once one of the most important ports in France for merchants using trade routes to the east and west. The old port is flanked by two impressive towers, all that remains of the old ramparts. Climb to the top of the Tower of the Chaîne or Tour Saint Nicolas, or enjoy tasting freshly prepared oysters.
You do not need a sailing license to sail France but sailing experience is preferred and recommended, or you can hire a skipper.
Dream Yacht Charter in La Rochelle: Choose from our Marina Minimes, La Rochelle bareboat charter fleet of monohulls or catamarans or you can hire a skipper.
By plane Fly from the US to Paris or other European cities. You can get a connecting flight to the regional airport La Rochelle – Île de Ré Airport (LRH), which receives several direct flights a day from Paris, Portugal, the UK, Belgium and Switzerland. See the airport website for more information.
We can arrange airport transfers to our marina.
By train From Paris: Up to 16 departures a day and you can reach La Rochelle in just three hours by direct TGV Montparnasse:
From Bordeaux: Several TER or Corail trains connect with La Rochelle in a two to three-hour journey
From Nantes: There are several trains from Nantes toLa Rochelle, a two-hour journey
There is free Wi-Fi at our marina and internet access is available via cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots, but you may need to pay. Cell phones can work depending on zones but don’t forget the roaming fees!
The best time to visit La Rochelle is between May and October, when you will enjoy the best temperatures. Summers are sunny, dry and hot (between 77ºF and 86ºF) and there can be a strong wind in the afternoon. Temperatures in spring and fall are mild (around 68ºF) and the weather is sunny with a little rain.
Day 1: La Rochelle – Saint-Martin-de-Ré After departing with the boat set sail for Île de Ré. Sail leisurely before passing under the famous bridge and continue until Saint-Martin-de-Ré. Moor in the small port for the evening and enjoy a meal on the terrace overlooking the lighthouse. Discover Saint-Martin, with its UNESCO heritage fortifications by military engineer Vauban, the museum Cognacq-Jay or the famous Baudet of Poitou donkeys.
Day 2: Saint-Martin-de-Ré – Ile d’Yeu Leave early and set sail for the Ile d’Yeu , which will take five hours of sailing. You can dock at Port Joinville, on the north coast of the island, with its typical white houses and numerous fishing shops.
Day 3 and 4: Ile d’Yeu Sail around the island of Yeu where many anchorages await you for swimming. You can also enjoy nature by renting bicycles, or for pleasant walks, enjoy the marked hiking routes and the coastal path.
Day 5:Ile d’Yeu – Ars-en-Ré Leave in the late morning towards Ars-en-Ré, a charming little village northwest of the island of Saint-Martin-Ré. Enjoy your end of the day and a quiet evening.
Day 6: Ars-en-Ré – Island of Oléron Sail towards Oléron. Leave the Whale Lighthouse behind and set sail towards the marina of Saint Denis d’Oléron. Take the opportunity to discover the Lighthouse Chassiron, the traditional small streets of Saint Denis and its fishing harbor, in operation for centuries.
Day 7: Oléron – Île d’Aix After touring the famous Napoleonic fortification of Fort Boyard, Île d’Aix awaits you. Anchor and disembark to enjoy the quiet streets and the protected climate of this small island, which hosted Napoleon before his exile to St. Helena. You can walk around the island without any worries as there is only 4m of coastline, and you can discover the small coves perfect for swimming.
Day 8: In the late afternoon, return to the Marina Minimes to disembark.
Our base manager and his team will be happy to welcome you in La Rochelle.
You will find many facilities at Marina Minimes, such as fuel, water, electricity, free Wi-Fi, bike and trailer rental, yacht club, sanitary facilities and showers / toilets accessible 24/7. There is also a sea bus service from Marina Minimes directly to the old port of the city center where you will find many restaurants, bars, shops, hotels and supermarkets.
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