Passage to La Rochelle

2nd July – 9th July – First trip of the year!

2nd July – We are finally leaving Port La Forêt! We intend heading down to La Rochelle first and then on to the North Spanish coast taking in initially Bilbao, Laredo and Santander before heading to the renowned Spanish Rias! 

Beautiful Port La Forêt

Leaving PLF after laying up there for two winters was sad but joyous too. We had been looked after extremely well by Pierre and his team, François and Jan at Extrado and more than ably assisted by Pierre’s wife Corinne in the office. Everyone has been so helpful, it has been a pleasure keeping Musetta with them! But now it’s time to continue our travels!

The sun setting on our time in Port La Forêt!

Our original thought was that we would sail directly to La Rochelle, approximately 160 nautical miles, as the crow flies.  It would have been a great ‘pipe opener’ so to speak and a way for us to catch up some of the lost time we suffered due to the problem with the rudder and other issues.  However, the weather had other ideas and we had to abandon that plan, there was no wind?! There was nothing for it but to make the trip in ‘hops’?!

2nd July ~ Île de Groix 

Typically, having had some glorious summer weather the day dawned grey and decidedly damp? The only saving grace was that it wasn’t cold!! But there was NO WIND??

Port Tudy, Île de Groix when the sun shines!!



Dolphins are guaranteed to lift one’s spirits!

We motored virtually all the way to Île de Groix! The wind picked up for a while and so we quickly put up the sails to make the most of it!  However, it was short lived and we soon had the engine on again.  Every cloud has a silver lining though and as if to cheer us up or just to give some joy a large pod of dolphins came to play around Musetta! They were amazing  and they certainly accomplished their mission!

We arrived at Île de Groix and the heavens opened! It absolutely poured with rain and we (our waterproofs) were sopping wet!  We needed to pay for the night which meant launching the dinghy to get ashore. This was an extremely wet process but we did it, you might say it was character building?!  We were assured by the harbour master that there would be sunshine tomorrow so once once the dinghy was secure we disappeared below for a well earned G & T, praying for the return of the sunshine and WIND!!

3rd July ~  Île de Noirmoutier 


A fish stall in the market in Noirmoutier

Although the sun wasn’t shining initially the wind was definitely picking up and we were soon cracking along and for most of the day it remained so! Lovely sunshine and great sailing it was superb!

4th July ~Île d’Yeu 

There definitely was no wind today but we didn’t want to stay in Noirmoutier any longer having spent time here last year and thoroughly enjoyed it but we were on a mission this time!

Peaceful and picturesque! A back street in Port Joinville

 We set off for Port Joinville, Île d’Yeu. It was only a 22 nautical mile trip and so we motored there in glorious sunshine!

5th – 7th July ~ Bourgenay

The day dawned bright and sunny and with, most importantly, WIND! We had an amazing sail and covered the 34 nautical miles in just a few hours!  We averaged 7.3. knots and hit 10.2 knots! With the wind on the starboard quarter it was an exhilarating downwind sail!

The entrance to Bourgenay

Approaching a new harbour is always somewhat daunting especially if all you can see in front of you is a wall of boulders,  it’s hard to imagine there is an entrance in it at all? However, the entrance was there and suddenly we were able to pick out the port and starboard, red and green markers, and then the way in came into view! 

Musetta on the visitors pontoon in Bourgenay!

The small town of Talmont Sainte Hilaire was close by and having borrowed bikes from the marina office we cycled the short distance there to take a look.  There just seemed to be one road through the town and a very ancient Château which was in the process of being restored and thus shrouded in scaffolding and not much else.  However, just by chance we discovered that the first stage of this year’s Tour de France would be coming through the town the next day and so we decided that this was an opportunity not to be missed!

Very appropriate bunting!

7th July ~ The 105th Tour de France!

We borrowed bikes from the marina office again and cycled the 8/9 kilometres along dedicated cycle paths through fields and vineyards to Talmont to be ready for the race!  The  town was a mass of yellow balloons and bunting made up of the different coloured Jerseys worn by the stage winners.

Main Street – all ready!




We found a good place to stand and watch in the shade, it was very hot! At about 12 pm it all started with all the sponsors coming through in their amazingly transformed cars and floats, the girls and boys on them throwing hats, water, scarves and a myriad other freebies into the crowd!  It was an endless stream of more and more huge images on vehicles!  It was incredible and full of the razzmatazz that goes with these huge events!!


Here and gone in a flash!

There was a gap in proceedings then, so we left our viewing point to go and have lunch in a small bijou restaurant on the main road before the peloton arrived.  All of a sudden they were there and then they were gone?!  It was all over in a few seconds but it was so exciting to see them all, the speed was breathtaking and the wind draught they created as they whizzed by was surprising?

Suddenly all was quiet, the masses disappeared and we cycled back to the marina to prepare for leaving the following day.  It was purely a coincidence that we happened to be in Bourgenay on the first day of the Tour but it was definitely a happy one!

8th July ~ Île de Ré

Having been here last year with Lara and fallen in love with it, I was so pleased this time when the wind failed!! It was an easy choice to go into St Martin de Ré!

Beautiful St Martin de Ré

I could now show Alan this most beautiful little Port! He was suitably impressed! We spent one night here  before making our final hop to La Rochelle.

 A corner bistro bar!


9th July ~ La Rochelle

We did manage to sail today, if rather slowly but it was fine as we knew we wouldn’t be able to go into the Vieux Port in La Rochelle because of the state of the tide and gate opening times and so we went into the first marina you come to, Les Minimes which is all tide and the largest marina in Europe with approximately 3.500 – 4000 berths! It was massive!!

We have arrived!!  Musetta on the recetion pontoon at Les Minimes!

Finally, after a very different from the originally planned passage from Port La Forêt, we are here and looking forward to exploring La Rochelle!


À Bientôt!!


14 thoughts on “Passage to La Rochelle

  1. Looks fantastic and agree about St Martin de Re, a really lovely port. Have fun and hope the wind blows for you. Judy

  2. Nous apprécions beaucoup Ros ton journal de bord et cela donne l’impression de vivre cette aventure à vos côtés. Merci et au plaisir de découvrir la suite. Bon vent.
    Odette et Marcel

    1. Hi Carole, thank you so much for a) commenting and b) your very kind words! I really enjoy writing about our trip and it’s great to know the blog is being read!!! Hope you’re all well? Do let me know how Maya is doing when you have a moment to spare! Take care and much love to you all xxxx ⛵️

  3. Think we might have visited that moule stall In Noirmoutier! Hoping all is well with you BM and you have had some of the wind we have had here this week, at least it has made the sun less intense as lovely as it is. Lots of love to you both xx

    1. Hi BM! Not too much of your wind here I have to report!! Off to Santander tomorrow. Will be posting some more soon. Hope you’re having a good time? Much love as always xxxx

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