With about 100,000 inhabitants, La Rochelle is a quiet town on the west coast of France, north of the Gironde, rated as one of the most attractive centers between the coasts of Brittany and the Bay of Biscay. Among these, stands St. Nicholas Tower, 42 meters high, built on oak pillars. The towers of San Nicolas and the chain guard the narrow entrance to the Old Port. The tour Saint-Nicolas, replaced an earlier one from the second half of the C14th. It has three rooms and a small octagonal overlapping maze of stairs and passages leading to the lookouts. Opposite is the tour de la Chaîne, the chain tower, founded in the fourteenth century and severely damaged in later conflicts, but restored in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A chain obstructed the entrance to the harbor. The port is no longer full of merchants, privateers or bourgeoisie. Today traffic has shifted more towards the Atlantic. But it retains a strong tourist atmosphere. At the same time, (Cour des Dames and quai Duperré) have opened souvenir stores and cafes, for colorful crowd of tourists. In the old town of La Rochelle the port is accessible from the door of La Grosse Horloge. At first it provided access to a fortified town.
The tower of St. Nicholas is located on the south coast port of La Rochelle, in front of the Torre de la Chaîne. The tower of St. Nicholas is the largest of the three La Rochelle towers. Its goal was to protect the port against the dangers of the sea. You can visit the tower from April 1st to September 30th, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and from October 1st to March 31st from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 2 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. There are only 3 days the tower is closed: January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. The visit costs 7.50 € (with the Matrix tower included).
Always looking towards the Atlantic Ocean, the towers of Saint-Nicolas, the Chaîne and the Lanterne seem to be in love with the ocean. They guard with suspicion one of the most beautiful harbors in the world, La Rochelle. The top of the towers offer the visitor with great views over the city. From the roof of the Torre de la Lanterne, the old port is full of candles that light the way to the bay, and in the distance the fort Boyard and the islands of Aix, Oléron and Ré seem to be almost a beautiful mirage. Over the years, these towers have witnessed major sea battles: sieges, invasions and military strategies which, for centuries, have kept it in the spotlight. But ... there it stands, wanting to continue being the symbol of Rochelle for at least ten centuries.
Located in Rochelle, the seaside city of some 80.000 habitants.
It's one of the characteristic buildings of this city, it attracts a lot of attention because of its décor. Protected by a wall, and with a spectacular rectangular indoor terrace.
The Lantern Tower called the tower of the 4 sergeants. It is located on the esplanade of Saint-Jean d'Acre in La Rochelle. You must pay € 7.50 for adults and 4.80 € for youths of 18 to 25. The ticket includes a visit of the Tour de la Chaine + a return. The Tower of the 4 sergeants served as a Serbian jail, so you can find hand prints on the walls. It is open every day from 10am to 19pm.
Chain Tower is one of the two towers that form the entrance to the Old Port of La Rochelle (the latter is the route of Saint-Nicolas). A large chain joined these two towers limiting access to port. From the tower, there is a beautiful view of the old port and its surroundings. Since May, there has existed a new theatrical space called "la rochelle - Quebec: reach the new France." The tower is open in July and August from 10h to 19h daily, received historical monument status in 1879.
The Coursive is a national stage. It has several activities such as dance, theater, cinema and more. Previously, the building was a convent built in 1665 by the Carmelite Fathers. The Coursive is a magnificent building with a beautiful facade and a beautiful interior space. I like going to see shows which don't cost more than 10€ for students and the occasional movie.
This was originally the main city gate leading to the port. Seeing it will transport you back to the Middle Ages. Rebuilt several times, it saw the coronation of Louis XV in 1756, and has a box that houses the town clock. An important and beautiful monument.
The La Rochelle Aquarium is one of the biggest and best in France, and is very famous. It is open every single day of the year, with no exceptions! In October to March they open 10am to 20pm, and from April to June and September they open 9am to 20pm, and finally, in July and August they open 9h to 23h. It is also nice to visit at night. It is quite expensive but as the aquarium is large and there are many things to see, many fish (there are even sharks) it is worth it. The tour ends in a rainforest with piranhas and turtles.
Since its inception in 1988, the Maritime Museum of La Rochelle has focused on the city's unique naval heritage. Location on the docks east of the fishing port, the museum is responsible for the restoration and maintenance of an entire fleet of ships. Here you can find the Angoumois, a fishing boat classified as a historical monument. On board you can see the huge engine room, kitchen, private areas, and some videos about conservation. Another boat moored nearby is a frigate, which opens its bridge to visitors, and gives you the opportunity to learn some truly fascinating things about life at sea. Definitely worth a visit.
Concurrence Beach is very close to the old port, along Correo street. It's a pretty small beach, but it's nice. You can walk, eat ice cream, play in the sand, go for a swim... Also, you can find mini-golf, Correo street, and Charruyer Park. There's a very nice view.
The Gabut was restored in the 1990s and is a former fishing village next to the Vieux Port of La Rochelle. The this area is very original because the houses are made of wood and different colors. I think it's a very special place. There are several restaurants, bars, cafes, tea shops, the tourist office, etc.. This is a great area to go for a stroll. I love walking through the narrow streets of Gabut.
Just thinking about it makes my mouth water ... near the old port of La Rochelle, with benches in front, you can't miss it. There are a number of delicious ice cream flavours: in addition to classics like vanilla and chocolate, there are plenty I wasn't familiar with. And it's definitely worth it - two scoops of ice cream for 4 euros, and the scoops are huge! You'll receive a mountain of ice cream almost 6 centimetres high and almost impossible to eat. There are also delicious fruit cocktails, "cannelés", "macarons", milkshakes and cookies. Highly recommended!
Le Piano Pub is one of the legendary bars of La Rochelle where everybody goes. It's a place you should not go to if you can't stand crowded places, because it is always full. Otherwise you can shop around because it has a great atmosphere and the staff are very nice. It also hosts lots of festivals.
The cellar of the Guignette was where sailors went to have a drink. Today, the bar attracts many people. The peculiarity of the winery of Guignette is precisely the Guignette, a snack of wine and fruit. It's cheap. People gather around a table, a barrel, the bar or stand. To enjoy the wonderful mix of guignette. The bar opens early in the afternoon and closes later than 8:00pm. A bell rings to announce your last chance to get a round in... You can also buy bottles to take home. The downside: There are so many people that it's sometimes difficult to get in and it gets too hot sometimes from time to time due to the amount of people.
The Church of San Salvador in La Rochelle is one of those churches with a tumultuous past. Devastated by two fires in 1418 and 1705, and destroyed by the Protestants in 1568, it was rebuilt each time. It was closed for a period of 13 years recently during some hefty restoration work, but it was reopened in 2008, and now has everything you'd expect from a church, and hosts concerts during the summer.
During my visit I had the opportunity to discover a magnificent collection of art from Oceania and Africa, including some pieces that are true masterpieces. This museum, in the heart of the city, has recently been renovated and is a great day out for the kids, who are sure to enjoy the zoology section.
The old city of La Rochelle, with its arcades and cobblestone streets, is worth a visit. What´s more, we were also able to admire the old facades. In this city, you can find both a calm sea port, and also walk around the streets in search of historic clues. I recommend visiting this city.
One of the first places to visit in La Rochelle is the Old Town, a scenic district that's also home to the Tour de la Chaîne, Tour Saint-Nicolas, and the Tower of the Lantern, among other interesting La Rochelle attractions. One of the best La Rochella activities is touring the Tower of the Lantern to learn more about it's Gothic architecture and usual shape. The views of the islands from the top and the prisoners' graffiti are also must-sees.
The Vieux Port, one of the most beautiful things to see in La Rochelle, is a historic defensive that serves as a great starting point to exploring the surrounding area. Speaking of which, the area around the port is home to some of the best stuff to do in La Rochelle.
No list of what to do in La Rochelle would be complete, however, without a mention of the beaches. While beaches probably don't rank among the top attractions in La Rochelle, the quiet bay and natural beaches make excellent day-trips, especially for fans of water sports.
So, as you can see, La Rochelle is a charming destination with a wealth of interesting options for visitors. To find all the best things to do in La Rochelle, look at the recommendations from real travelers from the minube community.