Shops and services guide to port Les Minimes, La Rochelle
Deyan reports on where he believes cruisers should spend their time and money wisely in this port having spent several months there in 2012 preparing his boat for extended cruising.
Published 10 years ago, updated 4 years ago
Port Les Minimes is a very busy place, with all kinds of facilities, shops, and services available for the yachtsman and his boat. Because of this sometimes it may be hard to find the right starting point.
The following guide is based on several months which I very recently spent in Les Minimes preparing a 53-footer for extended cruising, with short descriptions and reviews of most of the more useful shops and services located along and around the Que Marillac, as well as tips on what and where to find etc.
It’s not intended to give a review of all the services – although I can honestly claim that except for fiberglass work, during the months spent there I have had dealings with every possible shop, workshop or service.
There are six general chandler stores in which the average yachtsman can find almost everything he needs, albeit for quite a price. Read on to see what and where to find.
They have the widest selection of stainless and carry the best-priced ropes found in the port. It’s not the best place to order an obscure item though. This chandler has by far the biggest selection of clothing – mainly Gill, Marine Pool, and Guy Cotton – on most of these items you can get a 10% discount.
Entirely due to the fantastic guy who runs the place, AD is definitely the best place in La Rochelle where you can order almost anything for your boat, including items that the other chandlers wouldn’t have heard of, at a price lower than the competition, including electronics. Look for Thierry and tell him what you need. If you are a foreign yacht I would recommend this as your only shopping spot.
Other chandlers – Bigship, Uship, Navigatlantique
Although you’ll probably find something for your boat in these shops, they don’t carry anything exceptional and some items are unreasonably priced – something quite common in Les Minimes. Still could be worth a while for general shopping.
All the above chandlers have extensive free catalogs in store, some of them have extensive websites also. To save on time and money it’s a good idea to check these out. They’re all easily accessible by searching the company names in Google, although their English language websites have questionable functionality.
Chandler behind the capitanerie (across the big parking lot)
The sole reason for noting this shop is because only they carry clothing by Henri Lloyd – but beware with ordering items as they will probably never get there, regardless of what the sales lady promises. Always ask for a discount.
Electronics – where to buy and who can install them
Your first and easiest bet would be Thierry at Accastilage Diffusion – as noted above, he can order anything in a short timeframe. He does not do installations.
For installations – although he is quite busy and hard to get hold of, the manager of A.S.E.S. (Atlantic Sailing Electronic Service) is a fantastic guy who will give you really great prices for any kind of electronics, as well as offer very reasonably priced installations. He is the ONLY person in La Rochelle who knows how to install an SSB radio.
Pochon electronics – it’s a place to find quite a lot of items in stock, at quite a price (20-30% above UK prices). Beware of installations – their fees are around 100EU an hour and from my experience, work that literally requires two hours will take two or three days, sometimes even more.
Look for the Selden dealer. He also does antifouling. Besides being very good at what he does, Franck Chivé is an exceptional man and will be able to aid you with every kind of advice or help that you may require. In my opinion, he’s also one of the few people in La Rochelle who can fulfill a timeline and is a true yachtsman.
Concerning prices and quality, the Elvstrom dealer is by far the best place to get sailwork done or to order new sails for that matter. Even during high season, this was one of the few places that actually got the order done more than a week in advance.
Voilerie Service is very, very slow and I think too expensive for what they offer.
Concerning time and money, my best recommendation would be Fredd from Nautic Electricity. A very hardworking and dedicated man, Fredd offers his services in electrical systems, batteries, electric motors, solar and wind, etc.
Olivier Beaute from Atlantic Yacht Survey is exceptionally good at what he does – one of the best professionals I have ever seen in any field. Also, he lacks any kind of affiliation with yacht brokers whatsoever – something very important when requesting a survey to be done.
As far as yachts go, a custom inox order is definitely the most expensive thing you can think of in La Rochelle and generally may not be such a great idea. Although there are three workshops that could take care of this, A.F.E.P. is probably your best bet. The other two are ASMER and TechInox, not as good quality and price as A.F.E.P.
David, who runs A.F.E.P. is a genius with stainless and aluminum. He is probably the busiest man in the port, manufacturing single-handedly whole yachts. Because of this, it is advisable to agree upon a time frame well short of what is acceptable, so going over deadline is not a problem.
General tips – very important for getting things done in La Rochelle
As a whole, if you plan to do any minor or major work by yourself or somebody else in La Rochelle, there are several other things that are good to keep in mind.
First of all, try to avoid the months of April, May, and June as these are extremely busy – this is especially critical for doing larger work. For example – despite having hundreds of places for dry dock, it would be quite a feat to be able to take out a boat of any size even for a single day during this period. The same goes for any other services you might need.
With the exception of one or two places, it’s a very good idea to always agree upon a timeline that is well short of your real goals. It’s almost impossible to get anything done in time in this port.
Although all the shops may seem overstocked, you might be surprised how often it will take you several days to locate a trivial item – this is even more so if you’re trying to save on cash. For example, many items are available in all of the above-listed chandlers, but the prices for identical products vary greatly, sometimes by more than 500%. This makes shopping quite complicated and time-consuming.
The port is full of services, but really the people that are capable and willing to do well for what they’re paid for are unfortunately quite a small number – I have tried to list most of them here. Les Minimes is a huge moneymaking machine with an enormous potential for business and an ever increasing number of yachts and customers. In reality, there’s so much work to be done on yachts that there’s no real competition between the different shops and services, as everyone is completely overloaded. This leads to a lack of competitive prices, time frames, and quality. Something to bear in mind.
I hope that this short and somewhat unstructured guide will get you and your boat fast on track – the people and services listed here are definitely the best starting point for a newcomer to La Rochelle.
Contacts – please look for more detailed contact info. in the following websites:
http://www.atlanticyachtsurvey.com [Broken Link]
Electronics – A.S.E.S
Accastillage Diffusion – email contacts for the La Rochelle shop
phone: (+ 33) 05 46 45 49 49