La Rochelle is a beautiful town, with some wonderful buildings - especially in the area extending from the Old Port to the Market. Many of these date from the 18th Century - and were built by the 40 or more grand families who profited from the slave-trade.
La Rochelle was the second most important slave-trading port in France (behind Nantes). The three-cornered trade sent cheap goods, etc to West Africa where they were exchanged for slaves. The ships then sailed to the Caribbean, where those slaves that survived the voyage were sold. Then, the ships were loaded with sugar and spices for the return trip to La Rochelle. At one time the nickname of La Rochelle was "sugar town".
The building that now houses le Musée du Nouveau Monde, Maison Fleuriau was built for (and named after) one of the most important slave-owners of the town, who owned a huge sugar plantation on the island of St Domingue. In rue Réamur you can still see several fine buildings of the time - Nos 12, 16, 18 and the Préfecture (which was built as the family home of the Poupet family - must have been a large family!).
Although at one time la Rochelle had 16 sugar refineries, by 1801 only one was operational. A couple of ex-refineries are still there, in rue Chef-de-Ville: one opposite No 26, the second between Nos 29 and 37.
The business of slave-trading - and it was, in reality, both a business and profitable - mainly took place in the Exchange (l'hotel de la Bourse), built specially for the purpose, in rue du Palais (No 14). A beautiful courtyard is set off by the richly decorated buildings that form it.
Not everyone in La Rochelle (nor even on the Exchange floor) was a supporter of the slave trade, though. One still famous local - Samuel de Missy - was both a member of the Exchange and of the "Société des Amis des Noirs" (NB a fellow member of this society was Lafayette!). This double membership couldn't last, of course. He was accused of putting the town's economic livelihood at peril. As a result, he chose the honourable route - and resigned from the Exchange.
On Slavery Abolition Day each year (around 15 May, depending on the day of the week), the local "Association Memoria" organises a literary tour (in French, sadly) around the sites linked to the three-cornered slave trade.
It is a bit hidden but ask the locals for direction...this place is not the regular beach as it was virtually created to allow close to town fun for the inhabitants. The high sea is a bit far from the concentrated areas.
Yes, ..some are more generous with showing everything!!!
Musset's "Peu importe le flacon, pourvu qu'on ait l'ivresse" is not any topical in this museum.
It's neither any topical in the perfume industry since one knows about the importance of those design *containers* in the perfume purchase. Well, I like perfume and would buy the fragrance I like. Though, I appreciate it when the bottle is well-designed, in tune with the fragrance, with what I sought in the perfume.
Musée du flacon à parfum is for us, perfume lovers. Go there to find an amazing collection of perfume bottles, miniatures, powder boxes, labels. Some pieces date back to 1920, from great names: Lalique, Dali... Something unforgettable. A kind of museum of perfume, but for the eyes.
Thinking of it, where else than La Rochelle, who had a tradition of spices trading, would you find this kind of museum? Besides, its location near the Old Harbour contributes in keeping this feeling of travelling in murky depths of time.. amongst the French perfume tradition.
Go there. We are in the third millenium... You find there other perfume bottles from other countries.
33 rue du Temple - 17000 La Rochelle
I guess that if you visit La Rochelle for one week, you won't be interested in taking up sailing- boating lessons.
In the contrary, if you fancy boating but never had the opportunity to do it, and that you are moving in this nice area, La Rochelle has a school "Ecole de Voile Rochelaise" where to learn about this activity.
I know the school from my cousin having taken sailing classes there in her teenhood. Quite cool, it seems! Training is not only for kids, it is designed for adults as well. Check website to know more (French only).
Early XII century, English King, Henri II, Aliénor d'Aquitaine spouse, granted La Rochelle with its free town status.
Later on, the port city used to tie up trade links. To England and Flanders, salt and wine were exported whilst wool and materials imported from them. XV century: with Canada, La Rochelle got familiar with fur trading. Les Antilles were its partners in the slave trade.
Economic power resulted from the rise of trading activities. Banks and foreign traders settled in La Rochelle. Soon, this openess to the sea induced the openess to protestant ideology, namely caming from North Europe, whom La Rochelle got acquaintancies with. Besides, Université de Poitiers contributed to the spread of La Réforme. This high-ranking university was really appreciated. Jean Calvin used to meet people in the basement of the university, hiding from Catholic authority. Moreover, religious and ethical aspects (mis-respectful and abusive clergymen), inherent in Catholicism, led people to choose Protestantism.
Protestants then ruled this area. Wasn't La Rochelle a capital city of French protestantism?
Catholic French realm didn't appreciate that and gave the first assault to stop the rise. Royal army didn't succeed so, even with Religion wars (1562-1598), the city remained protestant. Not only, they kept their religious freedom but with the release of L' Edit de Nantes (inspired by Henri IV, protestant king), French people were given the freedom to choose their religion.
When Henri IV died in 1610, this freedom was not guaranteed anymore. Very soon, Louis XIII, his successor, decided to impose catholicism. Independent and rebellous locals resisted to that royal project. Yet, Louis XIII was determined in his action. In 1627, Richelieu gave the final assault by organizing an air and earth blocus. No food entering so to eventually suppress 22 000 of 27 000 Rochelais (!). Remaining 5000 ended up eating rats, grass and human flesh... but catholic! Richelieu epitomizes these 13 months of starvation...
I was walking backside the Gabut area when I discovered this... Enlarge the pic!
I didn't have the idea of asking about the "patrons"... They are surely from our little flat country's capital city, eh!
I spotted the building and everybody around looked at it. Only my family laughed!
You must clean up after your doggie, poopies on the pavement are not permitted !!!! you need to take a poopy bag at all times to clean up after your pet!