A few minutes from the Aunis Marais Poitevin, treat yourself to a restaurant on the old port of La Rochelle, an afternoon of shopping or even a visit to one of the many museums in the city.
La Rochelle with its three ports and its old town steeped in history is unmissable. Take the time to stroll through the alleys, to visit the largest port on the Atlantic coast at Les Minimes and above all to admire the postcard offered by the alignment of the 3 famous towers: that of the Chain, the Lantern and further afield. Saint Nicolas tower.
La Rochelle, beautiful and rebellious
We first mention its famous towers, faithful guardians of the ocean city, then its pleasant old pedestrian port where the sunny terraces come alive with the seasons. We then like to get lost in the meanders of its alleys where we discover the thousand and one facets of beauty; its arcades, its white stones and its half-timbered houses. All year round, La Rochelle lives to the rhythm of the sun, its festivals and its many events.
Here you can taste seafood, go sailing, enjoy the beautiful beaches of Île de Ré or the family resort of Châtelaillon-Plage. The Pays Rochelais is also home to memorable events all year round such as the Francofolies, the major musical event at the foot of the towers, the Grand Pavois, a boat show on the water or the International Film Festival. In terms of sites to visit, there are many possibilities, starting with the grandiose aquarium, the maritime museum, not forgetting the unmissable visit to the towers.
Stroll through the historic center
The postcard is unmistakable and there is no need to resist the urge for a stroll along the old port. Admire the Tour de la Chaîne, the lowest, then the imposing Tour Saint-Nicolas and, in the distance, the Tour de la Lanterne. Spared from the destruction of the ramparts, they proudly mark the entrance to the city from the sea. Take a seat on one of the many café terraces along the old port and enjoy the panorama.
Enter the heart of the city and let yourself wander through the alleys. In the historic center life is in full swing. The shops with colorful windows arouse your curiosity and the gourmet scents of the restaurants and the market will whet your appetite.
You will discover the arcades, witnesses of the commercial and commercial vocation of La Rochelle, the large private mansions, the astonishing building of the town hall or even the shipowners' houses.
The whiteness of the stones is sometimes surprising; foreigners, especially the English, used to call it "the white city" because of the dazzling whiteness of the city seen from the sea.
Gourmet stopover in La Rochelle
Want to have a drink in an unusual bar? Hurry up to the France 1 bar! At the bottom of the trawler basin, next to the Maritime Museum, the France 1 bar is open from April to the end of October. Located aboard a former meteorological frigate from 1958, this bar offers a unique setting to get the evening off to a good start in La Rochelle.
As for romantic dinners, with family or friends, the essential street to find a small restaurant away from the tourist traps is that of Saint-Jean du Pérot, not far from the Tour de la Chaîne.
The opinion of the local counter
We love going to the Ernest ice cream parlor, on the Old Port, to taste artisanal ice creams with gourmet flavors and surprising combinations. We have a weakness for “melon-strawberry-pineau”, a compendium of the best local products!
What boat trips can you make from La Rochelle?
You can discover La Rochelle from the ocean aboard a catamaran, take a family outing for a few hours to get as close as possible to the unmissable Fort Boyard or take an excursion to the islands of Aix, Ré or Oléron in departure from the Old Port.
The Minimes district
This dynamic district, where the city's student youth lives, has a pleasant beach and a marina which is one of the largest in Europe. Located just 15 minutes walk from the city center, Les Minimes has something to please. A real little city in the city, the district comes alive in season around its shops and restaurants. Here, modern houses rub shoulders with small residences with clean lines.
A gigantic port
15 kilometers of pontoons, on an area of 50 hectares: the port of Les Minimes impresses with its size. Its 4 berths in deep water make it one of the largest marinas in Europe. Here, holidaymakers and nautical professionals rub shoulders. Sailing schools offer courses for the whole family! As for nautical activities, you can practice jet skiing, towed buoy, paddle, etc.
The port also hosts a number of events, including the Grand Pavois, the famous international boat show afloat. The opportunity to see water sports, but also to admire and visit many modern and old sailboats on more than 100 square meters of exhibition space! The event continues to the Minimes beach, where many initiation and demonstration activities are to be discovered.
Stroll by the sea
At the foot of Les Minimes beach begins an ideal path for a walk along the coast. On foot or by bike, leave from the "Pointe des Minimes" and travel a few kilometers in a calm and green environment. An ideal route to take a little height and discover magnificent views of the ocean.
A trip to the beach
Facing the Bout du Monde lighthouse, Minimes beach, easy to access, gently sloping, is appreciated by families. Its full west orientation allows you to contemplate superb sunsets at any time of the year. Labeled "Tourism and Handicap", equipment is available for people with disabilities.
Where to park in La Rochelle?
To make the most of your getaway, here are our tips and tricks for finding free or cheap car parks in La Rochelle:
- park on the free part of the Esplanade des Parcs or at the Jean Moulin park and ride car park: the latter is chargeable, but you benefit from the shuttle bus included!
- leave your car behind the maritime museum and walk to the old port, or cross with the ferryman (sea shuttle at 1€).
- park in the Minimes car park: the car park is a bit far from the city center but free and the sea bus allows you to easily reach the center of La Rochelle (3€). A short trip on the water that will delight the youngest!
Once upon a time in La Rochelle...
Protected by the islands of Ré, Oléron and Aix, La Rochelle has always been considered a safe harbor and has developed very quickly. A thousand-year-old city, the one we call the rebel, has often distinguished itself from other cities in France over the centuries.
A small fishing village built on a rock, here is the beginnings of the city of La Rochelle, in the XNUMXth century. The village prospered quickly and the ocean city became an important port from the XNUMXth century. At the same time, and it will be the very first city in France to do so, a mayor is appointed to head it. This elected official, Guillaume de Montmirail, skilfully took advantage of the conflicts between France and England to increase wealth and privileges.
Protestant La Rochelle
In the 1562th century, the city, under Calvinist influence, became a Protestant citadel. Many sieges ensued. Between 1598 and 8, the region was torn apart by 1627 successive religious wars. The lands are then devastated, the abbeys and the churches destroyed and the population has to face terrible epidemics. In 13, the city attacked the royal troops who, in retaliation, besieged La Rochelle. The siege of Richelieu will last XNUMX months, until the royal pardon is granted.
Conquering the new world
Thanks to maritime trade with Canada and the West Indies, La Rochelle quickly regained its prosperity. She then experienced the Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, where continental blockades greatly reduced any form of maritime trade. It was not until the inauguration of the port of La Pallice in 1890 that the city was revitalized.
What to do around La Rochelle?
Only a few kilometers from the city of La Rochelle, find the wide open spaces of the Aunis Marais Poitevin: the canals of the Marais Poitevin for a boat trip, walking or cycling tours in the Aunis countryside... a good bowl of fresh air just a stone's throw from the city!