La Rochelle

La Rochelle is on the western coast of France, in the Charente-Maritime department.

La Rochelle is certainly among the most attractive port towns of France, and is a very pleasant place to visit and to pass a few days. Because there is a great deal to see and do in La Rochelle we have several sections about the highlights of the town (see below).


The focus of the town is the old harbour, a lovely part of the town and very picturesque with its two monumental towers (St Nicolas Tower and the Tower of the Chain) either side of the port entrance, through which you can watch the boats enter. A third tower, the ‘Tower of the Lantern’ is connected to the Chain Tower by a section of the ramparts that originally defended the town.

panorama photo of La Rochelle
panoramic photo of La Rochelle – part of the view from the Saint Nicolas Tower

The old town, just behind the harbour, is extensive and also very well preserved and restored and dates mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries. The main shopping streets especially have many fine buildings, but you will also need to explore the side streets in this part of the town.

The whole of the historic centre of La Rochelle has an impressive unified appearance, with arcaded streets, houses constructed in the local light stone, and light grey shutters. Boutiques now occupy the ground floor of many of the buildings.


colourful market in La Rochelle

La Rochelle falls into several ‘regions’ including:

– the harbour, with the old town and historical centre, is the centre of activity and interest within the town and contains many of the most important monuments. See La Rochelle old town.

– the three towers and the ramparts – see La Rochelle Towers

– the section around the old market – see La Rochelle market

– the large, modern port section a couple of kilometres south at Port des Minimes

The harbour region is well supplied with fish restaurants, and before dinner the walls of the old town are a popular and pleasant place for an evening promenade, as is the harbour front. The harbour is very active, with boats, numerous buskers, market stalls selling a wide range of products (mostly ‘arty’) and a general lively atmosphere.

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