Visit La Rochelle (Poitou-Charentes, France)
La Rochelle is on the western coast of France, in the Charente-Maritime department.
La Rochelle is certainly among the most attractive port towns of France, and is a very pleasant place to visit and to pass a few days. Because there is a great deal to see and do in La Rochelle we have several sections about the highlights of the town (see below).
Things to see in La Rochelle
The focus of the town is the old harbour, a lovely part of the town - very picturesque with its two monumental towers (St Nicolas Tower and the Tower of the Chain) either side of the port entrance, through which you can watch the boats enter. A third tower, the 'Tower of the Lantern' is connected to the Chain Tower by a section of the ramparts that originally defended the town.
The old town, just behind the harbour, is extensive and also very well preserved / restored, dating mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries. The main shopping streets especially have many fine buildings, but you will also need to explore the side streets in this part of the town. The town has an impressive unified appearance, with arcaded streets, houses constructed in the local light stone, and light grey shutters. Boutiques now occupy the ground floor of many of the buildings.
panoramic photo of La Rochelle - part of the view from the Saint Nicolas Tower
La Rochelle falls into several 'regions' including:
- the harbour, with the old town and historical centre - see La Rochelle old town. This is the centre of activity and interest within the town and contains many of the most important monuments.
- the three towers and the ramparts - see La Rochelle Towers
- the section around the old market - see La Rochelle market
- the large, modern port section a couple of kilometres south at Port des Minimes
The harbour region is well supplied with fish restaurants, and before dinner the walls of the old town are a popular and pleasant place for an evening promenade, as is the harbour front. The harbour is very active, with boats, numerous buskers, market stalls selling a wide range of products (mostly 'arty') and a general lively atmosphere.
Across the harbour from La Rochelle old town is the popular aquarium - see La Rochelle Aquarium
The town also has some attractive gardens to explore and a sprinkling of museums, including the Natural History Museum - see La Rochelle Natural History Museum
There is a small beach in the town - just along the harbour from the Lantern Tower. The beach is attractive at high tide although not very impressive at low tide when large stretches of slippery rock must be crossed to reach the sea. Most people head to Ile-de-Ré for better beaches.
The tourist office has a very good guide to walks around La Rochelle - both within the town, and into the surrounding region. The same leaflet also includes numerous cycle rides and cycle paths in the town.
Boat trips from the harbour to nearby islands are popular - including trips to Ile de Ré, Ile d'Oleron and Fort Boyard (well known among French people because of a television 'action quiz' that is filmed there).
You will better understand the town if you know a little of the history of La Rochelle
Photos of La Rochelle
Click any picture to start the gallery
Tourist classifications for La Rochelle
La Rochelle is classified as a historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé)
Address: Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes, 17000 || GPS: latitude 46.158, longitude -1.153
Map of La Rochelle & places nearby
Highlights close by
La Flotte-en-Re 14km
See lots more places to visit nearby and a more detailed map at places near La Rochelle.
See Poitou-Charentes and Charente-Maritime (the region and department for La Rochelle) for more travel ideas...
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near La Rochelle, France
- Aquarium de La Rochelle - aquarium
- La Flotte-en-Re - most beautiful village (14km)
- Saint-Martin-de-Ré citadelle (Vauban fortifications) - heritage site (17km)
- Marans - ville fleurie 4* (21km)
- Jardins du phare de Chassiron - remarkable garden (22km)
- Jardins de la Boirie - remarkable garden (27km)
- Rochefort - town of art and history (28km)
- Ars-en-Re - most beautiful village (28km)
- Baie de l'Aiguillon - site of natural beauty (29km)
- Eglise de Notre-Dame de l'Assomption (Maille) - religious monument (35km)
Market days in La Rochelle: Regular market(s) are held in La Rochelle each every day. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at La Rochelle (Francais)