La Rochelle Travel Guide

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La Rochelle Travel Guide

La Rochelle Local History

The town of La Rochelle was founded around the ninth century, and in the begining it was little more than a small village where surrounding marsh inhabitants gathered. Piece by piece, the town structure evolved and the first harbour was built during the twelfth century. A few weddings between lords' families brought the town under English rule from 1360 to 1453. After this period many Anglo-Saxon traditions remained, particularly religious ones.

The siege of La Rochelle took place between 1627 and 1628, between the Protestant city and its English allies, and the Catholic French crown, ended with the bloody defeat of the city. After this, the whole region was militarised and you can still see numerous fortifications, such as la tour de la Chaine built in the 14th century and la tour de la Lanterne erected a century later. From the 16th century onwards, the town expanded quickly, due to trade exchanges with colonies and foreign countries, which took place in the harbour, now called le vieux port.

Dark years hit the city with the Empire wars, 1805-1815, between napoleonic France and the rest of Europe, which destroyed most of the town's trade. Only during the second half of the 19th century was La Rochelle again to enjoy flourishing trade. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the town was blooming and open to the whole world, but also well developed on a local scale. It was after the second World War that tourism began to grow in La Rochelle. Today the town is home to many industries such as shipbuilding; train-building; chemical industries; and recent aquaculture companies.

La Rochelle Attractions

Top Attractions

Musee d'Histoire Naturelle - 28 rue Albert-1er. This ethnography and zoology museum is housed in an 18th century building, which is surrounded by a beautiful garden. Displays on exhibition include rare shellfish; a statue from Easter Island; an embalmed giraffe given to Charles X ; and a parade boat encrusted with gems that was presented to Napoleon III by the king of Siam. Admission is $4.50 for adults and free for children under 18.

Tour St Nicolas - Located at Quai du Gabut. This is the oldest tower in La Rochelle and was built between 1371 and 1382. From the second floor you can enjoy a spectacular view of the town and harbor and from the top you can see only the old town and Ile d'Oleron. This is a sight not to be missed.

Musee du Nouveau-Monde - 10 rue Fleuriau. Housed in an 18th century town house rich with architectural details, this museum is one of the most intriguing in La Rochelle. The exhibitions trace the port's 300 year history with the New World. Exhibits start with the discovery of the Mississippi Delta in 1682 by LaSalle and end with the settling of the Louisiana territory. Other exhibits display French settlements in the West Indies, including Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The General Humbert's Great Pub!T he Guinness is very good, and the atmosphere is wonderful.
submitted by Eric, 10/04/06

La Rochelle Activities

Aquarium de La Rochelle - Located at Port des Minimes. This is one of La rochelle's most popular attractions. Inside you'll find guided walkways that stretch over two floors of massive and bubbling seawater tanks loaded with approximately 10,000 species of flora and fauna from the oceans of the world, living in what look like natural habitats. There is plenty for the kids to see and do, so expect to spend a few hours here.

La Rochelle Beaches

Plage des Minimes - Located in Port des Minimes, this is one of the most popular beaches in the area. There are many shops; restaurants; bars; and apartments, and the young and beautiful flock out here at weekends and on summer evenings to parade on the beautiful white sands of the beach.

La Rochelle Restaurants and Bars

La Rochelle Restaurants

Le Comptoir des Voyages - 22 rue St-Jean du Perot. This is one of the old town's newest restaurants and celebrates the cuisines of most of France's neighbors and former colonies. In the restaurant you are surrounded by hardwood paneling and big windows. The food is well prepared, prices are moderate, and it is a very popular restaurant with locals and tourists.

Les Quatre Sergents - 49 rue St-Jean-du-Perot. This restaurant is housed in a beautiful Art Nouveau greenhouse. Specialties served here include seafood ragout; duxelles of turbot; brochettes of crayfish; mussels in curry sauce; and several regional favorites that have been popular for the better part of 100 years. Main courses cost around $14.70 - $22.

Bistro Andre - 5 rue St-Jean, place de la Chaine. The restaurant is very popular with tourists and locals and is set between the square overlooking the port and one of the oldest streets in town. The dishes served here are based on the seafaring traditions of La Rochelle, and include savory versions of fish soup; all kinds of shellfish; a local version of curried mussels; and a local saltwater fish filet of maigre served with a chive-flavored cream sauce.

La Rochelle Bars & Clubs

Le Piano Pub - 12 cour du Temple. This proudly French-style pub is popular with the 18 to 35 crowd and is a great place to go to watch rock concerts and mix with the locals. If you're looking to party the night away in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere, this is the place to go.

Le Mayflower - 14 bis cour du Temple. This bar, with its staunchly English decor of wood and leather, is also very popular with the young local crowds. Here you'll find a loud, boisterous, and very friendly atmosphere. This is another great bar for a great night out.

Music-Hall Cohiba - place du Marechal Foch. This is one of the newest and most popular dance clubs in town. It has a great Cuban atmosphere and is the place to go if you're looking to have some fun and dance till the early hours of the following morning.

La Rochelle children's activities

Aquarium de La Rochelle - Located at Port des Minimes. This is one of La rochelle's most popular attractions. Inside you'll find guided walkways that stretch over two floors of massive and bubbling seawater tanks loaded with approximately 10,000 species of flora and fauna from the oceans of the world, living in what look like natural habitats. There is plenty for the kids to see and do, so expect to spend a few hours here.

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