La RochelleCopyright: neko92vl/Shutterstock.com
La RochelleLa Rochelle is more than just a seaport on the Atlantic Ocean. The city is an inevitable place to visit on the coast as one of the largest French harbour cities in terms of business and tourism. With its 1,000 years of history, it is also one of the best-kept secrets in the region. You will be surprised by its architectural heritage, its unique atmosphere, the diversity of its museums, and its eclectic nightlife. The area is quite warm thanks to the Gulf Stream, on a par with the French Riviera!
The CityThe “rebel city” has a long time been the stronghold of Protestantism. Despite being besieged by the royal troops in 1627, La Rochelle has been very prosperous thanks to maritime trade with the New World. The city opened up new horizons, and intellectual and artistic influences gained strength in the 18th century. La Rochelle has beautifully maintained its past architecture, making it one of the most picturesque and historically rich cities on the Atlantic coast. There are also several islands to be explored, such as Ile d’Aix and Oléron, reachable by boat from the old harbour or the beautiful Ré Island linked by a bridge. Several great developments have emerged over the past few years. La Rochelle is home to the largest European marina for pleasure boats on the Atlantic coast. There is also a multidisciplinary university, renowned for its teaching of marine biology.
Do & See
You will enjoy exploring the city on foot, from the old harbour lined with seafood restaurants to the historical centre with its unique architectural heritage and the city walls open for an evening promenade. The city is also a popular resort for cruises, pleasure sailing or fishing.
La Rochelle and the surrounding region have many culinary assets. The gourmets will be spoiled with a large variety of delicious seafood dishes. In one of the many restaurants of the old city, you will find numerous of the delights of the ocean, like the famous Oyster Marenne d’Oléron. Trying this is a must! Those who are fond of snails will try the succulent dishes of Cagouilles also called “small gray”. Other regional recipes include the famous melon charentais, coq au pineau (rooster with Pineau des Charentes, the local liquor), goat cheese, and much more.
After a stroll by the sea, an intense afternoon of shopping, or a serious day of visiting La Rochelle, you will surely crave a break and a sweet treat. Good news: the city has plenty of tea houses, ice cream shops, and cafés for such a situation! If your sweet tooth wakes up earlier than you, this beautiful port town also offers its share of brunch and breakfast spots all around town or with a sea view. Nothing beats a nice cup of coffee and a warm croissant slowly eaten while looking at the ocean!
Bars & Nightlife
Although La Rochelle first strikes as a quiet seaside town, its nightlife is vivid and offers a great variety: from chilled wine bars and pubs to clubs where the ambiance is electric. When the night falls and La Rochelle puts on its nightdress, it reveals another side of its inner soul. The lightened buildings reflect in the calm waters, and the night owls come out, creating an irresistible vibration in the whole city until the first morning lights. We urge you to follow it!
Shopping in La Rochelle's intimate Old town is a wonderful experience and you can find a large number of cute boutiques and craftsmen, nice antiques, jewellery stores, designer shops and of course all the usual retail chains. Les Halles is a very interesting and colourful indoor market, where you will find fresh food products, first-class fish and seafood as well as rare local and tasty goat cheeses. Also visit the Island of Ré for its open-air markets with local products and scrumptious seafood as well as many array of great shops.