La Rochelle is a port on the Bay of Biscay on the west coast of France, located between the cities of Nantes to the north and Bordeaux to the south. Despite being relatively unknown to Americans, La Rochelle is the third most visited city in France, according to the Tourist Office and voted as one of the prettiest seaside towns in France.
The centerpiece of La Rochelle is its heavily fortified old port, called the Vieux Port. Behind the three 14th-century stone towers is the medieval core of the city lined with shops and fine seafood restaurants, a good place to take your evening promenade. You can visit the towers, and is particularly interesting for the graffiti inscribed on the walls by captured English privateers who were held there.
La Rochelle features a modern Aquarium. The history of La Rochelle is connected with the sea, of course, so there is a floating Maritime Museum to visit. The Calypso, which carried Jacques Cousteau and his crew on expeditions around the world, was sunk in an accident in Singapore and was donated to the La Rochelle Musée Maritime.
Boating trips are very popular to Fort Boyard or to the desirable Ile de Ré.
But what is the best thing about La Rochelle? Strolling around the old town and then sitting at a café, sipping a glass or two, and looking out at the medieval harbor fortifications, and simply people watching. A must visit.
Ile de Ré is a truly captivating island set off the west coast of France next to the old city of La Rochelle. The island is reached via a stunning bridge (toll payable) or free to cyclists. The island is 19 kms long and 6 kms wide and cycle paths meander all over the island. The Ile de Re is fringed with stunning white sandy beaches and bays.
La Flotte and St Martin de Re are two of the largest 10 villages with their old fishing harbours, chic shops, medieval markets and many cafes and restaurants by the water.
It is definitely worth a day trip to this magical island and to watch the sun set is a truly memorable experience that you will not forget.