A few days idling in Ars, Île d’Aix and la Rochelle – 9 to 19 July, 28, 11 miles

For the last month, we’d had lots of sun, only half a day’s rain, and no really strong winds. However, it looked as though we were due for a less pleasant week or so.

Fireworks (39K)
Bastille Eve
Ars is a great place for bad weather as well as good, being sheltered and free. The town is a delight, with a big market 7 days a week in the holiday season. We moved up the creek to a half-tide anchorage just outside the town, and spent a few days cycling round the island, doing some more fitting out, and attending the final concert of their “international guitar week”. On 13 July, the eve of Bastille day, they held a magnificent firework display at the end of the harbour breakwater, for which we had grandstand seats.

AixHarbpour (23K)
Moorings off Aix
Bastille day itself dawned with sunshine again, and we headed out, past La Rochelle, to the Ile d’Aix. At first we lay uncomfortably to a visitors’ buoy, with waves coming round the corner and banging us on the sand. However, at low tide, I worked out a transit to take us past the mussel beds and other rubbish into the drying, but very sheltered, inner bay, and we entered at half-tide. Ashore, we walked round the little grid-plan village. Its only multistory building was Napoleon’s last residence in France.

LaRochelleInner (25K) La%RochelleMarket (32K)
Inner harbour at la Rochelle The market
The forecast said that we still had a bit of bad weather to come, so next day we headed for La Rochelle and found space in the old harbour in the centre of town. However, M le Capitain came to tell us that catamarans were not allowed. This was a rule invented the previous week because catamarans might damage the pontoons. The fact that we were the lightest boat in the harbour was not relevant! So, we moved into the Basin de Chalutiers to take advantage of their 3-days-for-2 deal and enjoy some of the seriously good restaurants ashore.