An American in Brittany
Rochefort was put on the map in the early 20th century after a wealthy French-born American painter called Alfred Klotz bought the local château in 1907. Dating back to the 12th century, the château was destroyed by Republicans in 1793 and only the façade remains; the current building was constructed by Klotz. The château is open from May to September and houses some of Klotz’s paintings as well as a collection of objects from rural life in times past.
A flower fest
Klotz encouraged the local residents to dress their houses with geraniums, a tradition which continues, leading to Rochefort winning many awards for being one of France’s most beautiful villages in bloom.
A mixed bag
The best way to explore Rochefort is to wander around its attractive streets admiring the mix of architectural styles, which range from 16th-century half-timbered buildings like the Café de la Pente to symmetrical stone-built Renaissance structures like the Post Office in Rue Notre Dame de la Tronchaye. From April to September, the streets are illuminated from dusk until midnight.
Take the biscuit
As you’d expect from a ‘little town of character’ with an arty past, the streets are dotted with artists and craftspeople: potters, a candle maker, a toymaker… but don’t leave town without visiting one of the artisan biscuit makers like Le Rucher Fleuri in Rue du Porche, which is highly regarded throughout the region for its pain d’épices. Whichever shop you visit look upwards: Rochefort is known for its unusual and colourful signs.
A watery interlude
About a mile outside Rochefort is the Moulin Neuf, a lakeside complex where you’ll find a supervised beach in summer as well as activities including tennis, fishing, cycling and paths for walkers.