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.Currently the chateau is generally closed,
the grounds, chapel etc are open all year round.
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.