La Rochelle

The 1000 year old city of La Rochelle is described as the most beautiful port in France and the Geneva of the country. With almost as much sun during the year as the French Riviera (2,400 hours) La Rochelle is firmly anchored midway on the Atlantic coast of France. It is complimented by the fabulous islands of Re and Orleron making this an exceptional holiday destination.   The signature harbor of La Rochelle is flanked by two massive 14 century towers, Tour de St. Nicolas (the patron saint of navigators). With ideal breezes and temperatures, it comes as no surprise that La Rochelle is a household name with the national and international boating crowd!

Mention La Rochelle and seafood, particularly oysters, will inevitably come up in the conversation. Be prepared for some of the finest maritime dining.  Take the road bridge over to Ile de Re and discover the same thing!

Steeped in history and culture, evident through old wooden houses, elegant aristocratic homes, churches and several museums and parks, La Rochelle is also an exciting modern city. The ecco conscious traveler will be happy to see that La Rochelle lives its "clean" philosophy through self-service bicycles, electric shuttles, sea bus, and electric cars.

The creativity of the city is evident in the Francofolies, the InternationallFilm Festival, The Grand Pavois, the TV Fiction Festival, "Jazz Between Two Towers Festival" and more.  At the Musée du Nouveau Monde in Rue Fleuriau North Americans might be interested in seeing their history recorded in a photo collection of native peoples.

Because of its maritime position La Rochelle is best discovered through its several harbours; the Old Port in the city centre, the marina at Les Minnes, the Commercial Port of La Palice and the fishing port of Chef de Baie.

The Marias Poitevin is for nature lovers, environmentalist, romantics. The mysterious, misty and secluded landscape and national park of the Marais Poitevinlies east of La Rochelle.  In the 11th century this land was reclaimed from the sea by monks and designated the wet marsh and the dry marsh. The beautiful 15,000 hectares of wet marsh or "Green Venice" with an extensive system of canals is best explored by boat. On a lazy meandering punt you will discover mediaeval villages like Maillezais, churches and old abbeys such as the 11th century Abbey of St.-Pierre. At Coulon, a  village where each house is on a small canal, you can hire a punt and get about just as the farmers still do. The  Coulon area is part of the regional nature park and  is the perfect place to spot eels, pike, herons, snipes, ducks, kingfishers and other wildlife.