Tour de la Lanterne
The Lantern Tower (Tour de la Lanterne) is the only medieval lighthouse on the Atlantic Coast that is still standing (1445), the lantern tower contains a remarkable array of graffiti, carved into the walls by the pirates and prisoners that were held here after it was converted to a prison in the 17th century.
The most recognisable landmark in La Rochelle, the three towers - now together a listed National Monument - stand at the entrance to the harbour. They once formed the most important part of the town defences against invasion from the sea.
Looking towards the sea from in the port area, left to right are the Saint Nicolas Tower and the Chain Tower, each side of the harbour entrance, then along the ramparts a little way is the third tower, the Tower of the Lantern.
All towers can be visited, To see all three towers takes about 2-3 hours. a combined ticket to see all three costs 10.5 euros, and includes a crossing on the 'water bus' between the two opposite sides of the harbour.
Tour St Nicolas
This is the huge tower that dominates the harbour. It's worth climbing up to see it even if just for the good views of the town. Quite an impressive structure, it dates from 14th - 15th Century.
The website below tells you a little more about the town and what you can expect to see.
Nip over Châtelaillon- Plage, for beach activities
Châtelaillon-Plage is a nice beach resort 12 km South of LR. It is a kind of family spot. Nice, clean beach with a rolling- cycling path. Some bench where to sit facing the sun, near the casino.
The kind of beach with geranium pot... I don't remember about activities other than beach- oriented and the casino. It's not innocent if its name is Châtelaillon-Plage. My friend, a local, told me it's really lively in summer, full of beach acitivities: free swimming lessons, beach-volley, aquagym, trempoline as well as mini-golf and croquet.
When I was there (Sep-Oct), it was really calm with just some families walking with toddlers, some on a terrasse facing the sea (and watching the sun).. Really calm.
I appreciated there the setting. In contrary of Belgian coast, Châtelaillon could preserve its urban architecture by forbidding huge buildings along the dam. Orginal nice little villas have been kept. As for colours, they are either white either in pastel tones... See my travelogue for pictures.
- Family Travel
- Water Sports
Nip over l'Ile de Ré
If you have more than one week in La Rochelle, don't miss l'Ile de Ré.
Locals use to nip over this little island on week-ends to see nature, to cycle on those long cycling paths, to breathe fresh air... to enjoy those desert and lovely beaches.
In Saint Martin de Ré, considered as the "capital town of L'Ile de Ré", some nice restaurants :), shops and wineries .. and "remparts".
Lots of pinewoods and vineyards to make those Pineau des Charentes.
Salt-water marshes where to visit oysters farms, to learn about this old tradition of salt collecting.
Many stuffs to do there. Check my page on IR.
For me, it was a real coup de foudre!
- Food and Dining
Exploring the Hotel de Ville
This was a square we found in La Rochelle. A kind of meeting place, stunning buildings, in the Old Port and centre of town. I liked the grandness and yet acceptance of the magnificent buildings by the young people.
It was just outside the Hotel de Ville and in the middle of Poitiers. Such a really cool place to hang out in the middle of centuries of history.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
La Rochelle L'hotel de ville
We chanced on this magnificent building just by walking around a part of the town we had not seen before. I quote here from the plaque. "The actual location of the Town Hall dates back to the 12th Century when La Rochelle was granted a Charter of Commune. The central building is protected by a crenelated enslosing wall flanked with turrets from the 15th century. In the courtyard from the left side a Rennaisance pavilion and the main building 1595-1606 supported by a row of columns *in the french style* can be viewed. The staircase surmounted by the statue of Henry the Fourth *the good friend of the Rochelais* and the right wing dated from the end of the 19th century.
Admission 4€ ($5.20) adults, 1.50€ ($1.95) students and children 4-18, free for children under 4
Read more: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/larochelle/A26077.html#ixzz0Gk2Yh5Nc&B
The Aquarium, La Rochelle
This is an absolute MUST SEE! we have been several times now. You descend into the aquarium in a lift that gives you the impression that you are diving in a submarine. Then you walk through a tunnel of glass, lit only by moon jellyfish floating around you slowly in a clockwise fashion. The exhibits are some of the best I have seen anywhere in the world, huge shark tank, tropical beach display with wave action, massive tanks for turtles, delightful smaller exhibits with brightly coloured fish and a tropical jungle section.
The latest exhibit is a small half hemisphere tank containing jellyfish. They are magnified due to the optics of the glass and water, the free floating ones are spotted with an iridescant blue and white tentacles. The ones sunning themselves upside down are orange. 2009.
Please go and see this! you won't be disappointed.
Writing about our May 2009 trip, the prices have gone up by 0.50€ in each section. The adult visit is 13 € children less that 18 years are 10€ and children under 3 years are free. Audioguide is 16.50€ but for children it is 13.50€. Opening times are:
October to March 10.00 - 20.00
April to June and September 9.00 - 20.00
July and August are 9.00 - 23.00
- Family Travel
Strolling around the MARKET
I used to love walking around the market in La Rochelle.... it is full of local products and I was asked to taste almost everything on offer.... delicious.... there is also a wonderful section in the very back where all the flower stalls are and I highly reccommend buying a bunch of french lavender ....
Here is a life-web cam link the PLACE DE MARCHE
The market is closed only on bank or religious holidays
- Food and Dining
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip
It was great experience,it was my first visit of aquarium.It is really big,I spent there 1,5 hours.It cost 12 Euro but I bought ticket in my youth hostel,and I paid only 6.5 Euro.And I do not why:).
I am sorry,but I do not have a photo.
It is the largest in Europe.
A place, as leaflet says, to "Dream, understand and learn about the sea".
Two levels dealing with the world oceans' species. Plus an under the sea house and a tropical plant greenhouse. Many rooms dedicated to specific species: sharks, turtles, medusa...
Check the website for tarriffs and opening hours".
Worth noticing: the place is fully accessible to disabled persons.
Go if you can. I was in La Rochelle when it was fine for walking and outside activities so hadn't given it a try.
Don't miss Grands Yachts basin in the neighbourhood. It houses some nice engines sometimes...
Picture: Two of the famous towers in La Rochelle: Tour St-Nicolas ( left), Tour de la Chaîne (right).. not on picture: Tour de la Chaîne
- Family Travel
Wooden cabins in Plage des minimes area
This is a nice area that surprised me.
We went there to see the speedboats and the marina but the area in itself is interesting to see with those wooden cabins. From explanation I received from my friend, the wooden buildings are apartments for, most of time, students. I kind of envy them, studying near the sea, near the speedboats. What would be the area while preparing to host races?
Enlarge the pics to see the style of those buildings.
Well, i have to say that what stroke me most was the resemblance of those cabins to the ones in UCL- Woluwé area. UCL- Woluwé is the branch of UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, that is) in Brussels region, Woluwé being a commune of the latter. UCL-Woluwé deals with Medical and para-medical studies (future doctors, dentists, pharmacists...). I studied in this area in the past and I noticed some students of UCL- Woluwé and La Rochelle uni students have similar style of housing: the wooden buildings... but I prefer it in la Rochelle, apartments are close to the beach and sea.
The fact that those buildings are in wood is not that unusual. La Rochelle used to have an area named "Ville-en-bois" (Wood-city). This was a picturesque and initial quarter with wooden buildings. But it paid a huge toll to a big fire in summer 1986 that devastated the wooden city. Then, it had to be rebuilt. Soon, authorities settled La Rochelle University there with many amenities (Uni restaurant, Library, student apartments...), an engineering school, joining the only school that was located in the area.
Besides, the Aquarium, the biggest in Europe, was built in the area too so to make it lively. From those changes (and thanks to the fire?), this area, that had been named "La Rochelle 2" for years, was connected to the old district...
- Sailing and Boating
The *jewels* in Minimes marina
Those are the ones who use to race in the area. When I was there, there has been some race the previous day, along with the Grand pavois. And this Victorinox was reported to have won the race. Don't laugh!! Since I am not hooked enough to ask which race it was, i am unable to tell you which race it won.... LOL
I saw many locals staring at it though... That must be true!
- Sailing and Boating
- Water Sports
Musée du Nouveau Monde
Like many European cities, LR has its Musée des Beaux-Arts and Musée d'histoire/ histoire naturelle.
This time, I would like to talk about more original themes.
First, Musée du Nouveau Monde. What one refers to Nouveau Monde is the American continent.
The collections of this museum remind the link between La Rochelle, port city and this Nouveau Monde. Commercial links involved the trade of materials, leather, fur, sugar, coffee, wood, slaves and for centuries, salt. Actually, African "comptoirs" were involved in that too... Where traders used to sell materials and buy slaves who woll be shipped to the Nouveau Monde. Those were, for instance, the kind of links. In return, traders used too buy furs, leather (from Canada), cocoa (from Carribean) that they would sell in Europe.
The exhibition is a way to learn about history, the key role La Rochelle played, in fact. But in a less tedious way, with nice old maps, watercolors, drawings from West Indies, Native American (Indian) usual tools.
1200 pieces to see those remote lands (Americas, West Indies) through Rochelais and the traders' eyes.
Collections are housed in a property the ship-owner Fleuriau bought, centuries ago, and whom he gave his name.
Mon. to Sat.: 10.30 to 12.30 ; 13.30 to 18 pm.
Sun. from 15 to 18pm. Closed on Tuesday.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Le grand pavois, usually in mid-September
An International Boat Show that used to be a huge economic event in the region, Poitou-Charentes'.
Some hundreds of exhibitors would be there to represent their nations, with their newest items: boats, yachts, superspeed engines.
Well, think of huge and superspeed boats as items and not our simple pairs of shoes. Attendants gather both amateurs, newbies as well seasoned professionals. With on-water and on-the-ground displays according to the size of the boats.
Each year, the event has its guest country of honor, 2003 was Danemark year and 2004 would be South Africa's. The guest country would be in highlight, would present a big picture of its nautical sector. Along that, sampling of guest country's specialty food products.
Most interesting stand, I think, is the "Wood village". An area dedicated to longtime forgotten material and that is brought back to the style of the day. Personally, I always appreciated wood for its warmth and tradition. It seems to be the case of shipyards, architects, designers who are involved in research on modern techniques that would allow/enhance the use of wood in shipbuilding. Oddly enough, other categories use to attend the Wood village as well: the antiques dealers and decorators. Well, it's not that odd given that La Rochelle has a lot of those trinkets and antiques shops (see shopping tips)
Plus, demo and free first lessons are given to introduce sailing to newbies.
All of that usually attracts thousands of attendants in Port des Minimes area each year.
Pic of Port des minimes will come soon.
Check the website, it will tell you more.
- Sailing and Boating
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