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La Rochelle Tourism

Updated on June 14, 2015

La Rochelle France

La Rochelle in France sits on the west coast just above Bordeaux. It looks out across the Atlantic Sea which for whatever reason does not quite seem to have the same appeal to it as when you hear the Mediterranean Sea mentioned. But it has to be said if it is west facing it is going to get the sunsets and actually from a scenic and architectural viewpoint it is pretty stunning.

We visited La Rochelle on our way back from the UK after a Christmas break, so it was very early in January and around mid afternoon time. We had heard so much about La Rochelle that we felt we couldn't drive by, being so close, without calling in to take a look. Consequently the photographs have been taken on a relatively grey January afternoon which for a tourism article doesn't exactly show La Rochelle in its best light, excuse the pun. I did consider whether I should actually use my own photographs, but as we run a gite in France near the Mediterranean coastline, it would have been a bit tricky popping back on a nice sunny day.

So I decided to adopt the analogy with house viewing, where if you see a property when it is a dark grey day in winter and still fall in love with it, then you are actually going to love it in the summer sunshine. Now there will be the sceptics out there who will be thinking well if he runs a holiday place in France near the Mediterranean he probably doesn't want to show the west coast in its best light. Well to those people all I can say is, you make a good point and you might be right, but if you are then it is Freudian in nature.

La Rochelle - Weather in La Rochelle

La Rochelle France
La Rochelle France

La Rochelle is the capital of the Charente-Maritime region and has 76,711 residents; it is one of the most attractive cities in France and is over a 1000 years old.

You can see from the photograph that the weather in La Rochelle was typical of a January afternoon in the UK and even though it is quite hard to convey through the images, the town did still have a nice feel to it. Driving through looking for the sea front you get a feel for a place and whether it is upbeat or down trodden and La Rochelle is definitely not down trodden. Everything was well maintained and even at this time of year as we wandered around the sea front, you could see the Mairie's men taking care of essential maintenance during this quiet period for La Rochelle's tourism industry.

It's not hard to imagine that La Rochelle, with its proximity to Bordeaux, could develop from being a small fishing village into a major player in the wine export trade. What you may not realise is that salt also played an important part in its development and it was a combination of trading in wine and salt that established La Rochelle as a significant presence on the west coast of France as early as the 12th century.

Like many of the larger sea side resorts around France the maritime traditions of La Rochelle stand out. There are a number of ports in the city, the main one being the Old Port in the city center which is guarded by the Two Towers, there is also a commercial port at La Pallice, which has a large submarine bunker still there from the 2nd world war, and a fishing port at Chef de Baie with a marina at Les Minimes.

There is, for me anyway given where we live near Carcassonne, an interesting link between the Knights Templar and La Rochelle. It was their largest base on the Atlantic Ocean and where they based their main fleet. This was so that they could act as intermediaries in trade between England and the Mediterranean. Wheels within wheels as they say and there was a Knights Templar presence in the UK as well, not a lot of people know that as Paul Daniels would say.

Legend states that the Knights Templar fled France with a fleet of 18 ships which arrived there from Cyprus carrying Jacques de Molay, the last grand master of the Knights Templar, he was executed on order of King Philip IV, who was deeply in debt to the Knights Templar. The ships were supposed to have been laden with treasure, and knights of course, leaving just before the arrest warrant was issued against the order in 1307. Legend also has it that the treasure ended up buried somewhere on Oak Island, Nova Scotia. See the film National Treasure for the full story.

National Treasure

From Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, and Jon Turteltaub, director of PHENOMENON, comes NATIONAL TREASURE. It's the thrilling, edge-of-your-seat adventure starring Academy Award® winner Nicolas Cage (1995 Best Actor, LEAVING LAS VEGAS) as Benjamin Franklin Gates. Ever since he was a boy, Gates has been obsessed with finding the legendary Knights Templar Treasure, the greatest fortune known to man. As Gates tries to find and decipher ancient riddles that will lead him to it, he's dogged by a ruthless enemy (Sean Bean, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy) who wants the riches for himself. Now in a race against time, Gates must steal one of America's most sacred and guarded documents -- the Declaration of Independence -- or let it, and a key clue to the mystery, fall into dangerous hands. Heart-pounding chases, close calls, and the FBI turn Gates's quest into a high-stakes crime caper and the most exciting treasure hunt you've ever experienced.

National Treasure (Widescreen Edition)
National Treasure (Widescreen Edition)

The mystery and intrigue surrounding the Knights Templar is still maintained right up to present day, not bad for an organisation who's demise was supposed to have taken place circa the fourteenth century. As one of the reviews tells you this is an edge of seat Raiders of the Lost Ark meets the Da Vinci Code, but it is great fun.

 

Photos of La Rochelle

Click thumbnail to view full-size
La Rochelle BeachIn memory of the French Resistance in La Rochelle, one of the last places in France to be liberated from the Germans at the end of the 2nd world war.La Rochelle and the Two TowersPromenade along the coast at La RochelleYou can get boat trips to Fort Boyard during the holiday seasonThe two towers guard the entrance to the Old Port at the entrance to La RochelleArchitecture and sea views are a great combination at La RochelleCross this bridge and head to the sea food restaurants near the Old PortSea view across the beach at La RochelleYou can imagine this area being much busier in the summer months, nice and quiet in January.
La Rochelle Beach
La Rochelle Beach
In memory of the French Resistance in La Rochelle, one of the last places in France to be liberated from the Germans at the end of the 2nd world war.
In memory of the French Resistance in La Rochelle, one of the last places in France to be liberated from the Germans at the end of the 2nd world war.
La Rochelle and the Two Towers
La Rochelle and the Two Towers
Promenade along the coast at La Rochelle
Promenade along the coast at La Rochelle
You can get boat trips to Fort Boyard during the holiday season
You can get boat trips to Fort Boyard during the holiday season
The two towers guard the entrance to the Old Port at the entrance to La Rochelle
The two towers guard the entrance to the Old Port at the entrance to La Rochelle
Architecture and sea views are a great combination at La Rochelle
Architecture and sea views are a great combination at La Rochelle
Cross this bridge and head to the sea food restaurants near the Old Port
Cross this bridge and head to the sea food restaurants near the Old Port
Sea view across the beach at La Rochelle
Sea view across the beach at La Rochelle
You can imagine this area being much busier in the summer months, nice and quiet in January.
You can imagine this area being much busier in the summer months, nice and quiet in January.

Map of La Rochelle France - La Rochelle Tourism

La Rochelle is located on the west coast of France north of Bordeaux a famous wine region of France.

A markerLa Rochelle a 1000 year old port and a place of history and architecture. Home to German U boats dur -
La Rochelle, France
get directions

La Rochelle Aquarium

Of all the places to see in La Rochelle, with its history and architecture left largely undamaged over the years, one of the must visit places is actually a modern glass built facility, and it is La Rochelle Aquarium. The main reason being that you will, amongst all the other species, be able to see around 20 different species of sharks. In the aquarium you go through a tunnel that effectively sections off the different oceans and seas of the world as defined by the species of sea life that live in them. The tour is concluded at a large tank housing the sharks.

La Rochelle in the Summer

Thought I had better let you see a bit of La Rochelle in the summer, didn't want you accusing me of being biased to the Mediterranean coastline.

Travel to La Rochelle

La Rochelle has its own airport and train links to both Paris and Marseilles, Also if you are feeling like a little bit of a special treat you are not too far from the start of the Canal des Deux Mers which takes you all the way from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean via the Canal de Garonne and the Canal Du Midi starting at Castets en Dorthe and ending at Sete. The Canal Du Midi lets you link ultimately to either the Canal De La Robine at Narbonne or the Etang de Thau which joins the Canal du Rhone at Sete so you can access the Mediterranean.

La Rochelle France Comments

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    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 16 months ago from California

      Oh this might have to go on my list of places to go--it sounds delightful!

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 3 years ago from France

      I'm only two hours away from La Rochelle and haven't visited in the last 11 years! This has inspired me to get going.

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 4 years ago from France

      @anonymous: I don't think you will be disappointed, if is lovely in January, just imagine the summer season.

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 4 years ago from France

      @Blackspaniel1: Thanks for that, it was a bit of a grey day being January but La Rochelle is a lovely place to visit all the same.

    • BrianRS profile image
      Author

      Brian Stephens 4 years ago from France

      @goldenrulecomics: You really should try and visit the South, all of France is beautiful but the South really is special in places.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      Nice photos. we were in Brittany a few years back but never made it far enough south to see La Rochelle...

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Good images

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      La rochelle is a great place to visit, I will certainly have to add this in my wish list.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Magical place that I've visited often. Thanks for the memories!

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      I'm sure it is a great place to visit. I love the photos.