La Rochelle

Sheltered in a bay of the Atlantic Ocean, La Rochelle is a formidable seafaring port that dates back to the medieval era. The Vieux Port (Old Port) is guarded by two massive towers, the Tour Saint-Nicolas and the Tour de la Chaîne, which served defensive purposes during the Middle Ages. The Old Port has a bustling harbor with many restaurants and outdoor cafés, especially at the Cours des Dames and the Quai du Gabut.

Tourists will enjoy exploring the Old Town of La Rochelle, with its atmospheric pedestrian streets and stately historic landmarks. The centerpiece is the Hôtel-de-Ville (Town Hall), a lavishly furnished Renaissance building that is open to the public.

The arcaded Rue des Merciers, true to its name “Street of the Haberdashers,” is lined with many stylish clothing and shoe boutiques, found in the arcaded corridors.

Other must-see sights include the Musée Maritime (Museum of Seafaring), and the emblematic Tour de la Lanterne lighthouse.

After a walk on the quays, the visitor is invited to go along the beautiful narrow streets of the old town. It is packed with interesting mansions, Renaissance residences, and old timber-framed houses. The numerous shops lining the pedestrian streets and under the arcades will delight shopping fans.

Nearby is the Bassin à Flot, an atmospheric fishermen’s quarter. At the Old Port, tourists can embark on cruise rides to the Île de Ré (one hour away) and the Île d’Oléron (50 minutes away).


Numerous events liven up the city: the International Sail Weeks in May and June; the International Film festival of La Rochelle, the famous Francofolies music festival in July, Grand Pavois, an international boat show on water in September, and the Jazz music festival between the two towers in October.


For hundreds of years, La Rochelle was one of the greatest port cities in France. Great sailing ships would depart from the historic port, laden with wines, salt and household goods, bound for the New World or for the port cities of northern Europe – Bristol, London, Rotterdam, Hamburg and beyond. La Rochelle was a wealthy merchant city to rival with Bordeaux or Nantes.

La Rochelle Aquarium

La Rochelle’s is hands down one of the finest aquariums in Europe. Come face to face with 12,000 marine animals from sharks to jellyfish. Don’t miss the Galerie des Lumières, and then grab a bite at the Café de l’Aquarium and admire sweeping views over the city of La Rochelle from its enormous glass windows.