Things to do in La Rochelle
The old harbour, (Vieux Port), is a popular stamping ground for tourists, and many of the city’s museums are within walking distance, including the local fine arts museum. Family-friendly Plage de Minimes, as well as the Plage des Catalans (the nation’s favourite beach for singles) are also nearby, while Le Musée du Nouveau Monde marks the city’s role as the point of departure for ships travelling to the New World. Le Musée des Automates et Modèles Réduits features 300 miniature models, as well as model battle re-enactments. Children are in for a treat, as the Aquarium La Rochelle can be accessed via a mock submarine, and the Musée Maritime tells the history of the port with interactive displays.
The port also boasts three distinctive towers, including La Tour de la Lanterne, a lighthouse turned prison, and Tour de la Chaîne, where chains were once hung to protect the city. Visitors can also enjoy live music thanks to a variety of bars and a large concert venue called La Sirène (The Mermaid). Bird watchers have much to enjoy at the Marais d'Yves nature reserve, with telescopes available to scour the wetlands for the 250 bird species that live here. But little ones won’t feel left out either, because hundreds of species of plants and animals can be admired here on guided safaris and bike rides. Best of all, it’s only a short drive away from the city and holiday rentals in La Rochelle.
Local delights in La Rochelle
The local food makes a holiday in La Rochelle a gastronomic exploration. Eat oysters at the bars next to the Marché Central, where fresh food is beautifully displayed on the stalls of the covered 19th-century market. Or try the region’s best-known fruit, ‘Melon du Haut-Poitou’, which the locals like to pair with cheese and wine. La Rochelle is also renowned for its cognac, so don’t hesitate to try the local appetisers soaked in this local libation. Le Chabichou du Poitou (goat milk cheese) has pride of place on the tables of local eateries, but for diners in search of something special, head for the restaurant on Île de Ré that serves mussels roasted on spruce needles.