Pont Transbordeur du Martrou – Rochefort et Échillais – France

The district of Martrou Echillais lies south of Rochefort, about twenty kilometres from the estuary of the river Charente. This is the home of the Martrou – Rochefort transporter bridge, designed by Ferdinand Arnodin and opened in 1900. Listed as a Historic Monument since 1976, today it is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the area and has a visitor centre.


In the 19th century consideration was given to building a bridge over the river Charente. The problem was finding a system that would not stop the constant traffic of ships going past, especially naval vessels going to the Arsenal de Rochefort (closed in 1927). Several solutions were considered, including building a tunnel, but in the end it was decided to use the design by Ferdinand Arnodin, his new transporter bridge system.

Work began in 1898 and went on for 27 months. The metal parts were prefabricated at Arnodin’s factory and sent to Rochefort by train. Building the foundations for the piers meant digging down 19 metres on the Rochefort side, and 8 on the Echillais side, to find ground solid enough to support the 700-tonne structure. The bridge was finally opened on 29th June 1900.

Of the 6 transporter bridges built by the engineer Ferdinand Arnodin in France, the Martrou transporter bridge is the only one that still survives.

The bridge in figures

  • Distance between towers: 129 metres

  • Gondola crossing time: 75 seconds

  • Weight: 700 tonnes

  • Length of gondola: 14,60 metres

  • Height of the towers: 66 metres

  • Height of the platform over the water: 50 metres

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Credits and intellectual property

Top picture: ©CARO

Gallery 1: ©Service historique de la Défense Rochefort / ©Maison du Transbordeur

Gallery 2: ©CARO / ©Maison du Transbordeur

Video: ©CARO / ©imagine créations