La Rochelle, capital of the Charente-Maritime area
Just 30 minutes from our hotel in Saint-Martin-de-Ré
Located 25 km from the Hotel du Port and reachable by crossing the Île de Ré bridge, La Rochelle is a charming place to visit and a real open-air museum to maritime life. With its four ports, it defines the term Atlantic city. In the Middle Ages when the salt flats and wine production had made the Aunis (the region in which La Rochelle is centred), this port town was built to deliver the salt and wine to the large merchant towns of Northern Europe. Becoming a city of tradesmen and shipbuilders, plus establishing a large fishing port and links with the New World, the town was born thanks to the sea.
Always dynamic, La Rochelle was a pioneer in urban ecology in the 1970s, and remains a champion in this field, being an intelligent and intense town where everybody feels good.
There are plenty of things you won’t want to miss - the Vieux Port, protected by its towers that are a testimony to the power and wealth of La Rochelle throughout the centuries; the pedestrian district of the Saint Sauveur church, where you can go shopping under the arcades and admire the former shipbuilders’ houses; the Saint Nicolas neighbourhood, once home to fishermen and a true village within a village; the market that takes place every morning around the 19th century market hall; and finally the St Jean du Pérot neighbourhood, the site of the Francofolies music festival by the Vieux Port’s towers, and home to many restaurants and La Coursive (La Rochelle’s public theatre).
Yet perhaps what makes La Rochelle really shine is the radiant, soft sunlight against the white stone buildings, which always enthrals visitors.