We love beach towns and port towns! There is something so beautiful about a quaint town sitting on the coastline. I love walking the beaches in that area, finding what makes that town unique and all its own. La Rochelle France is a town that has much to offer. Besides its stunning beautiful, we were pulled to La Rochelle on our Tour Of France because it offers the best Aquarium and Zoo in France. So is it the best of so many worlds. You still get to see amazing architecture, but it was such a nice break to enjoy some incredible underwater creatures, and a zoo where animals a birds had such large spaces to roam in the old quarry.
Our Hotel was just down from the Train Station in La Rochelle, and walking distance into the old town. Like many towns in France, cars were not allowed into the old district, so getting a hotel walking distance to all the amazing sights was very convenient and made it nice to not have to find parking.
The signature feature in La Rochelle is this beautiful Castle like entrance into the Port for the boats. The one on the left is called Saint-Nicholas. It was built in the 1300's and has incredible views from up top. You can buy a ticket to tour this tower or the better deal is to buy a ticket for all 3 towers in La Rochelle. In the 12th and 13th centuries the roads Templars all converged towards La Rochelle, making the city their port on the Atlantic. In 1154, the marriage of the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine with Henri the II of England made La Rochelle an English Province. It changed hands many times during the Hundred Years War, but in 1372 it became a city that was definitely French. When it was first built, it was built on silts with no wall connecting it to the city and it had 3 cells in the bottom.
IF YOU HAVE A HARD TIME VIEWING 360 IMAGES,
CLICK on the BLUE View on Google Maps button.
It was fun watching the huge Catamaran's coming in through the huge Harbor Gate.
SAINT NICOLAS TOWER
As you come around the South side of Saint-Nicolas tower you can see all 3 towers Saint-Nicholas, La Chaine which has a exhibition about the emigration to Canada in the 17th century, and then the last Tower of the Lantern that has amazing views of the beach.
Back in 2016, La Rochelle hosted the Red Bull High Dive Competition off the Saint-Nicholas Tower. The dives are incredible, but the views of La Rochelle from up on the tower are also stunning. See video above.
I loved the old sea equipment along the old cobblestone roads here in La Rochelle.
This Church above called Eglise Saint-Sauveur helped me to realize the scope an repercussions of WWII in this area. It is "in your face" how much of this church was destroyed, and how it just never was the same again. I have a hard time imagining all the destruction the war caused on this country, but seeing things like this help me see how tough it must have been.
Inside the church it was a simple but beautiful church, but my favorite detail was the lights that are shaped like ships.
Below is a Statue in Small Banks Square to Eugene Frometin in 1905 Ernest Dubois 1865-1930. Famous Painters, Writers and Sculptures in La Rochelle.
BIG CLOCK IN LA ROCHELLE
The BIG CLOCK was originally the gateway to the walled city. The door to the city at the bottow was called the door of the Parrot or Pettot. This is from the "inside" of what would have been the city wall. On the outside is a beautiful walkway around the port with a market with sellers selling their wears. I loved this beautiful Pirate boat with the towers behind.
STREET MARKET IN LA ROCHELLE
Below is street market on the bank of the harbor in La Rochelle.
CHAIN TOWER IN LA ROCHELLE
Chain Tower above.
TOWER OF THE LANTERN
It is the tallest of the towers, and has been a jail cell for English, Spanish and Dutch sailors which all carved their marks inside. It used to be the South West Corner of the old medieval city wall.
Looking back from the Tower of the Lantern you can see the other 2 towers and my adorable hubby!
As we pass the Tower of the Lantern the sun is setting. It is a race to see the sun setting on the ocean at La Rochelle.
Gorgeous house and Bridge on the way down to the "Stall of the Beach".
THE STALL OF THE BEACH
If you decide you would like to travel here, I recommend also checking out the crazy Tourists 15 best things to do in La Rochelle.
I love seeing views of what these towns used to look like and trying to imagine them the way they used to be.
Wikipedia has maps of the town in 1572 that I find so interesting.
Author is: Par Anonyme — Universitätsbibliothek Salzburg, Handzeichnung H 16,
This Map is is also in Wikipedia in Public Domain.
If you are as intrigued by the history of La Rochelle as myself, here is a link to lots of wonderful information about the history of this place.
Time to chill. We found Glaces, a Thai and Sushi place, and a beautiful street to relax and chill in the true French style for the evening. I have to give it to the French. There is something wonderful about spending the evening with the breeze coming in cooling everything off and to just relax and spend time with friends. You would think with so many people out eating on the sides of streets it would be a cacophony of noise, but people speak quietly for the most part trying to contribute to a chill relaxed atmosphere. It is one of those things that are really enjoyable to participate in that you just don't get to be a part of on a tour group, but I think you should add to your bucket list as a must to experience at least once in your life.
In the morning, we had 2 things we really wanted to catch before leaving this beautiful town. The first was a spot called the Lighthouse at the End of the World. It is a Light House built out in the Ocean, but supposedly at low tide you can walk out to it.
It was a gorgeous spot for a morning run along the coast. Beautiful flowers in bloom, cool morning ocean air coming in off the ocean. Great place to start the morning.
LIGHTHOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Here is a link to the Aquarium site to check it out. It is a beautiful website with really great pictures. http://www.aquarium-larochelle.com/en
I saw fish I have never seen before in my life there, and I have visited quite a few aquariums. So fun to see how many unique and amazing creatures are in this amazing world.
I enjoyed La Rochelle more than I thought I would. I thought it would be just a smart change of pace and a stop to see the amazing aquarium, but it delivered that and so much more. I loved all 3 of the towers. I enjoyed the views of the ocean from both the Stall of the Beach, and the Lighthouse at the end of the World. It also was a perfect launch spot for we went from here to a Biopark Doue la Fontaine that was a former rock quarry and up to some gorgeous Chateaus.
If you want more of Gorgeous La Rochelle, Click on this link to Google Earth, then click on the little dude in the bottom corner and then click on any blue line or dot where you wish to see more.
Here is a Google Map List of some of my favorite quaint towns we visited on our Tour of France if that is helpful.
GoogleList of my Favorite Quaint Towns in France on the Map
If you enjoyed this town, you will also LOVE
Link to Concarneau, France
Link to Concarneau, France
BEACH OF THE MOLE -
This really was an amazing Tour of France. I loved our focus of exploring a quaint town near each different country border so we felt like we experienced multiple countries yet never left France and didn't drive as far. It was brilliant. If you want to see all the places we traveled, just use the search magnifying glass at the top right and type in France to see more of this fun vacation.