La Rochelle Travel Guide
Home to a historic sea port of the Bay of Biscay, La Rochelle's highlight are its picturesque Old Harbour, boasting many fantastic seafood restaurants, and its beautifully maintained architecture. As the location of international TV show 'Fort Boyard', you can also take a boat from the harbour to the Fort itself - built in the 1800s under Napoleon rule.
In addition to its vast history, Arts and Culture is a big part of everyday life in La Rochelle. with big events such as the Francofolies, the International Film Festival, the Grand Pavois and the TV Fiction Festival all happening annually throughout the city.
Things to see and do
Vieille Ville (Old Town)
The Old Town is home to many of the historic focal points and attractions of La Rochelle. Beautiful Renaissance style buildings such as the Town Hall, Grand Rue des Merciers, the Palais de Justice and Tour de la Lanterne, can all be found within walking distance of each other.
Originally built for defensive purposes, the Tour St-Nicolas is the only tower to be decked out like a house and was once used as a royal residence. The many rooms can still be visited, and a trip to the top is well worth the beautiful views of the city below.
Tour de la Chaîne
Offering superb views from the top, the Chain Tower is an imposing fort, designed to protect the city from invaders, and is one of the dominating features of the La Rochelle landscape.
A trip to La Rochelle, couldn't be complete without learning about its rich maritime history. Filled with models, and completed retired ships and short films, The Maritime Museum is not to be missed.
Constructed in the 18th century, the magnificent interior is a stunning example of the Baroque style of ornamental design and romantic ceiling frescoes.
Situated in the heart of La Rochelle, this peaceful park is filled with a remarkable variety of trees and flowers, as well as an idyllic river.
- Flight time from London: 1hr 35min
- La Rochelle – Île de Ré Airport: 8km from the city centre; transfer time about 17min
- Nearest railway station: Gare de La Rochelle
- Currency: Euro
La Rochelle's only two-Michelin-star restaurant, is widely regarded as the finest dining venue in the town. With specialities such as tartare of prawns in oyster jelly and curried turbot with coriander, this is a dining experience like no other.
Cafe de la Paix
This opulent cafe dates all the way back to 1895 and serves reasonably priced, local cuisine, taking advantage of the daily fresh fish from the harbour.
Ernest Le Glacier
An ice cream parlour like no other, and arguably the best in La Rochelle, Ernest Le Glacier, offers a variety of flavours including, fig, cinnamon and caramel-and-fleur-de-sel.
La Rochelle enjoys a busy and eclectic nightlife, with most of the activity happening around the Old Town and Old Harbour. With many street performers and live concerts there is a very fun atmosphere throughout the streets. Many of the pubs and bars feature live music, there is also a wealth of clubs for those looking to dance the night away, and a casino for those not being able to resist a flutter.