Famously called the white city, or La Ville Blanche in French, La Rochelleis famous for its stunning white limestone façades which glow in the sunlight and are topped by 15th century towers.
La Rochellewas one of the most popular and busy sea ports inFrancebetween the 1500s and 1800s and was the port from where the founders ofMontrealonce set sail. The streets you walk on today are cobblestones, and are made from ballast from ships which were brought in from theAtlantic.
The city is now one of the greenest in the world, taking on the green and clean air notion like few other cities inFranceorEuropeand the public transport system is something to behold. Visitors with children will enjoy the many activities designed for little people and the wide open green spaces make it a great place to visit.
Despite no longer being one of the main ports in France, the Les Minimes area is a now a huge marina with moorings for over 3500 boats and the reclaimed land is home to some stunning buildings, apartments and restaurants.
You can fly straight intoLa RochelleAirportfrom Stanstead with RyanAir and hire a car from there, or get the train fromParisand hire a car at the train station. Once in the town either use your hire car or the fantastic public transport system, although having a car is useful late at night when the buses don’t run or to get out of town and to see the area around La Rochelle.
Things to do when you hire a car in La Rochelle
The Chain Towers
At the entrance to the harbour are two enormous 14th century towers, which were designed to protect the port from attack at night. The towers were used to pull a huge chain up across the harbour entrance so no ships or boats could attack. You can still climb the Tour St-Nicolas which is 36metres high and once held a candle as part of its role as one of the oldest lighthouses in the world.
Arguably the best tourist attraction inLa Rochelle, the aquarium is fantastic for adults and children alike, and features rides in an submarine, jelly fish that dance to classical music and rays and sharks. With the whole centre designed to educate, you can’t help but learn as you make your way around the stunning aquarium and take in the delights the ocean has to offer.
We mentioned thatLa Rochelleis great for kids, and it’s also home to two different toy museums. With nearly 200 years of toy history in the Musee des Automates showing the best of automation in toys and some fantastic models in the Musee des Modeles Reduits (Scale Model Museum) there is plenty for all to see.