La Rochelle is more than just a seaport on the Atlantic Ocean. The city is an inevitable place to visit on the coast as one of the largest French harbour cities in terms of business and tourism. With its 1,000 years of history, it is also one of the best-kept secrets in the region. You will be surprised by its architectural heritage, its unique atmosphere, the diversity of its museums, and its eclectic nightlife. The area is quite warm thanks to the Gulf Stream, on a par with the French Riviera!
Most shops are open Monday to Saturday from 9am-7pm. Smaller shops may close at lunch time from around 12pm-2pm. Stores close on Sundays and public holidays except for annual sales events.
The “rebel city” has a long time been the stronghold of Protestantism. Despite being besieged by the royal troops in 1627, La Rochelle has been very prosperous thanks to maritime trade with the New World. The city opened up new horizons, and intellectual and artistic influences gained strength in the 18th century. La Rochelle has beautifully maintained its past architecture, making it one of the most picturesque and historically rich cities on the Atlantic coast. There are also several islands to be explored, such as Ile d’Aix and Oléron, reachable by boat from the old harbour or the beautiful Ré Island linked by a bridge. Several great developments have emerged over the past few years. La Rochelle is home to the largest European marina for pleasure boats on the Atlantic coast. There is also a multidisciplinary university, renowned for its teaching of marine biology.
You will enjoy exploring the city on foot, from the old harbour lined with seafood restaurants to the historical centre with its unique architectural heritage and the city walls open for an evening promenade. The city is also a popular resort for cruises, pleasure sailing or fishing.
After a stroll by the sea, an intense afternoon of shopping, or a serious day of visiting La Rochelle, you will surely crave a break and a sweet treat. Good news: the city has plenty of tea houses, ice cream shops, and cafés for such a situation!
If your sweet tooth wakes up earlier than you, this beautiful port town also offers its share of brunch and breakfast spots all around town or with a sea view. Nothing beats a nice cup of coffee and a warm croissant slowly eaten while looking at the ocean!