Whether you stop over for a few days or plan your entire holiday there: La Rochelle is one of those destinations that never cease to surprise with the diversity of their attractions. An old historical city, it testifies to a rich architectural heritage both on the old city side and on the ocean side, its fetish side! From the quays of the Old Port to the famous Aquarium, passing by the beaches, the nautical pleasures and the iodized dishes: everything here is turned towards the sea that separates it, a few cables away, from the islands of Ré and Oléron. In addition to its natural heritage, the white city has forged a strong cultural reputation through its museums and especially its many festivals that animate it all year round... Book now, the Francofolies have just started!
N°1-The Old Port
It is of all the postcards, photos and paintings: the Old Port of La Rochelle represents the iconic image of the city. Built in the 13th century, the port was fortified in the Middle Ages, as its watchtowers valiantly testify. It played an important role during the Hundred Years' War and then during the discovery of the Americas and triangular trade. Today reserved for pleasure boating, it is the most lively place in the city thanks to the terraces of cafés and restaurants, the painters who immortalize its panoramas and the incessant ballet of onlookers.
N°2-The old town
After passing through the gate of the Big Clock, you enter the old town and its arcade streets, which were once used to protect goods from the elements. This intertwining of paved alleys revolves around the majestic Town Hall, it houses half-timbered houses covered with slate slabs, the oldest of which date back to the 15th century. The private mansions, the gargoyles of the Maison Nicolas Venette, the secret passages and dark corners give a very special atmosphere to this particularly well preserved enclosure.
The construction of Saint-Louis de La Rochelle Cathedral began in the 17th century according to Jacques Gabriel's plans, but the work was completed more than a century later. It is a very bare building, with an austere limit, whose façade is only decorated with two orders of Tuscan and Doric columns. The dome was decorated in the 19th century with frescoes by William Bouguereau. Since 1906, Saint-Louis Cathedral has been a listed Historic Monument, and still holds services on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings.
Nearly 800,000 visitors visit the Aquarium de la Rochelle, one of the largest in Europe, every year. It is animated by more than 12,000 specimens from the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific Oceans. We explore the biodiversity of the world's seabed through a fun and educational route, particularly adapted to minots. In its 75 aquariums, various species of sharks, striated jellyfish, clownfish, seahorses, octopus, Touloulou crabs, turtles... Count 2 hours for the visit and, in summer, prefer the nocturnes to avoid the crowd
This is a pleasant place to stroll in the heart of the city. This large 40-hectare park has bike paths, a 2 km walking trail and a small stream inhabited by ducks and swans. There are many playgrounds for children and even a small "zoo" area where turkeys, goats, peacocks, parakeets and turtledoves can be found. Designed between 1887 and 1890 on the site of the former fortifications, Charruyer Park is still a delight for the people of Roche.
It is one of the most popular and lively places in the city: the covered market of Les Halles is at its peak on Wednesdays and Saturdays, days of large markets where the stalls overflow onto the surrounding streets. This beautiful 19th century building covers all the local flavours and in particular the delights of the sea: ultra fresh fish, seafood, oysters from Oleron, mussels from Charron... In other words, the Tourist Office offers guided tours to meet the producers for tastings around the land.
La Rochelle has 3 beautiful beaches on both sides of the city. The Chef-de-Baie beach, which can be reached by bike, is the most popular because it is sheltered from the winds by a seawall. Les Minimes beach is the largest and most touristic, it looks like a real seaside resort with its terraces, shops and street vendors. Finally, the Competition beach is the most pleasant, at low tide, for fishing on foot; however, it is not too suitable for swimming because of the mud and stones.
N°8-Cruise to the islands
Many cruises are organised from La Rochelle to visit the offshore islands. The opportunity to discover the wild nature of Oleron and its maritime heritage illustrated by the forts and fishing ports. The whole of Ile de Ré is ideal for cycling through landscapes of salt marshes. Smaller, more intimate, the island of Aix, which we walk around on foot, is a small paradise for green tourism, it is also here that we discover everything about the pearl trade. Cruise passengers also offer to take a tour of the impressive Fort Boyard, unfortunately not accessible to the public but, despite everything, one of the stars of the tabloids!
A land of festivals, La Rochelle is lively all year round thanks to its many major events. We all have in mind the Francofolies, a must-attend festival that brings together more than 150,000 music lovers every summer. The city also hosts three major festivals dedicated to the 7th art: the La Rochelle International Film Festival in July, the TV Fiction Festival in September and the International Adventure Film Festival in November. And since 1973, it has been home to one of the largest international boat shows in the sea: the Grand Pavois
In the Culture & Heritage section, La Rochelle is not to be outdone since it has several exciting museums. The most surprising is certainly the Bunker, which traces the history of the city during the Second World War in a real shelter, the headquarters of the German commanders. The Maritime Museum presents the city's maritime heritage, while the New World Museum recounts its role at that time with moving accounts of slavery. You can also visit the Fine Arts Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Automaton Museum, which is particularly popular with children