The snapshot series:
The snapshot series does exactly as it says on the tin – it gives a short introduction to places where Magellan personnel have visited under four main headings – Where is it, Why Visit, When should I go and Anything Else. As with all towns and cities, there is so much more to do and see than we have listed.
Where is it?
Hermione is moored in the former royal dockyard of Rochefort on the Charente River, in Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes, France.
Hermione is a replica of the ship that took Lafayette to the Americas in the War against the British. Built over 20 years with traditional methods to boost tourism in the ancient Royal port of Rochefort, she effectively became a marine ambassador, strengthening the ties between France and the USA as she followed her predecessor’s routes around the East Coast of America. Feted in America as she arrived for Independence Day, she has returned resilient, tested and triumphant to her home port where she will once again become a living museum, berthed in Rochefort. This is the largest, most authentic tall ship built in the past 150 years, to plans we have been told were shared by Portsmouth Dockyard – France’s own archive being destroyed in WWII. Her masthead was carved by one of the few remaining craftsmen able to complete his task – Andy Peters, an Englishman. He told me that French mastheads were far more flamboyant than the British and for the knowledgeable eye, it’s easy to tell the nationality of any masthead due to their restraint – or otherwise – in the design!
The recreation of Hermione designed to pump life back into the sleepy port of Rochefort was a “grande idée” which was developed by a small, ever growing team, doggedly determined to see the project through no matter the obstacles, no matter the cost – and they succeeded thanks to their courage and resolve. Hermione is their triumph – the result of what can be achieved when you throw your heart and soul into a project. That is to be admired. That is something we should share with our children. She is simply inspirational and that is why you should visit.
When should I go there?
Anytime from 5th September onwards – best to book online at Hermione.com although a few tickets will be available at the dockyard. The maximum group size for tours is 18 people and there are two types available – one with a volunteer who travelled with her to America – the other with a re-enactor, dressed in period costume, telling what life would have been like on board when the original Hermione was in service. Tours take 1:15 hours. Entrance ranges from 9 euros for adults, 5 euros for 6 – 15 youngsters – for a tour of the exhibition and workshop. Entrance prices rise to 16 euros (8 euros for 6 – 15 youngsters) to include a guided tour of Hermione herself. Children under 6 visit free for the exhibitions but cannot tour Hermione herself.
It is no small feat to recreate a ship measuring more than 65 m from stem to stern with 1,500 sq m of sail spread over three masts – and volunteers from the tall ships community visited France from all over the world to help with the project. The hull is completely made of oak which is up to one metre thick and in case she came up against any enemy when sailing on her maiden voyage, she was built to withstand enemy cannonballs, able to carry 26 guns capable of firing 12-pound balls – hence the designation – “12-pounder frigate”.
Hermione became, over the years she was crafted, the third most popular tourist attraction in Charente-Maritime and I hope she may creep up the rankings when she once again takes up the mantle of museum. Thankfully, she may not be landlocked forever for it’s anticipated she will take place in Tall Ships events in the future – and what a sight that will be.
Contributor: Sue Lowry – Photographs by various photographers – credits on images themselves
Région Poitou-Charentes and Charente-Maritime Tourisme are clients of Magellan PR. Follow them on twitter @poitoucharentes and @CMTourisme on Facebook/Atlantic Coast & Cognac Country – Holidays in Poitou-Charentes and Facebook/tourisme.charente.maritime.
Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+: Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry. For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com. Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller. Follow A3Traveller on Twitter: @A3Traveller.