Created around 1650 by Colbert, the military port of Rochefort rapidly became an important maritime location. 20,000 people lived there in 1671 and worked in the port. The town was built of wood at firs but was then reconstructed under the direction of Superintendent Bégon. The Arsenal « the most magnificent in the kingdom » employed between 5 and 10,000 workers. It has not been in use since 1921 but Pierre Loti's town is still impregnated with the perfume of all its earlier maritime adventures.