La Rochelle has been described as both beautiful and rebellious due to its rich maritime history. The old port area is the perfect place to start exploring the famous towers, arcaded streets, piers, cloisters, and the majestic City Hall. Visit the ‘Museum of the New World’: La Rochelle was one of the major trading ports and emigration points to the new world. The port of La Rochelle was the last sight thousands of emigrants saw before setting sails for the Americas and Antilles. The museum explores the relationship between France and the Americas and its collection include paintings, sculptures, ancient maps and decorative arts as well as eighteenth-century French furniture and rare American colonial furniture.
Explore the Central Market in La Rochelle
La Rochelle’s lively food market is nestled amongst the narrow, cobbled streets in the old town and offers a great display of delicious local produce. As a coastal town it is unsurprising to discover plenty of fresh seafood, from piles of langoustines to inky black squid. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the market spills out onto the square and the side streets where every inch is taken up by a different stall. One stall expertly lays out a variety of creamy goats cheese in all shapes and sizes. The log shaped ‘Chèvre a la Coupe’ and cone shaped ‘Chabichou du Poitou’ are specialities in this region. By the square lies an indoor market hall which dates back to the 19th century, and for generations this market has been the place for locals to meet up, shop and catch a bite to eat.
Visit the Aquarium of La Rochelle
In the heart of La Rochelle, opposite the old port, is one of Europe’s largest private aquariums. Aquarium La Rochelle holds three million litres of sea waters and is home to over 12,000 marine animals. Discover, learn and be amazed by the biodiversity of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the tropical seas.
Where to eat
St-Jean-du-Perot is locally known as the ‘food street’ of La Rochelle. The street is home to various top restaurants catering for traditional French gourmet taste buds as well as cuisines from around the world. The area is also great for enjoying the night life of La Rochelle: animated, festive and friendly and filled with bars, wine bars, and nightclubs.
Around 650 shops can be found in the very centre of La Rochelle, including ready-to-wear designer stores, accessories, jewellery, souvenirs, books and gifts. Diversity and individuality characterise the shopping streets of La Rochelle.
Where to stay
Overnight at Hotel Saint-Nicolas ***
Located in the St. Nicolas area, 2 minutes from the old port and 200 meters from the station is the comfortable and welcoming Hotel Saint-Nicolas.
The Saint-Nicolas area is in the old fishing district of La Rochelle and is popular for its charming small houses and narrow streets. In the evening, the area comes to life with its many cafes and wineries. It is a perfect place to meet up with friends for a drink and to enjoy a variety of live music. Do not forget to include an early evening stop at the Guignette, a real Rochelle institution – but be quick, the bar is only open from 4 – 8 pm!
Staying for longer?
The region certainly deserves a longer visit and just south of La Rochelle is the French Atlantic Coast, packed with possibilities: Spend a romantic break for two, enjoy a holiday with the family, discover the many forts and maritime heritage or indulge in the gastronomic treats and specialities of the region.
Poitou-Charentes Region www.visit-poitou-charentes.com
La Rochelle www.holidays-la-rochelle.co.uk
Hotel Saint-Nicolas www.hotel-saint-nicolas.com
Holidays in France www.rendezvousenfrance.com
For more information on press trips to La Rochelle and the Poitou-Charentes region, please contact the Atout France press office.