The seafaring town of La Rochelle is the jewel of Charente Maritime, a wonderful region in France perched on the Atlantic Ocean. Its maritime heritage is instantly identifiable from the two stone towers that stand guard over the entrance to the Vieux Port. Soaking up the harbour buzz, you can then carelessly meander the arcaded streets of the old town for a spot of souvenir shopping and discover what else La Rochelle offers its many visitors… Pleasingly, it is also just a short hop into the centre from one of our many campsites near La Rochelle. Campsites nearby include Les Charmettes, Bonne Anse Plage and La Pignade.
For the kids
Experiences & special events
La Rochelle’s family-friendly, state-of-the-art Aquarium, one of Europe’s largest with 12,000 marine animals on display in 65 tanks, is definitely not to be missed! Also worth a visit are two ‘toy’ museums that sit the side-by-side: Musée des Automates (automated toys) and Musée des Modèles Réduits (vehicles in miniature) – one ticket lets you enter both attractions. La Rochelle in July is also a great place to celebrate music (catch the annual Les Francofolies event) or spot a celebrity (during its annual film festival).
Things to discover & hidden gems
Warning: some physical exertion may be required! Try climbing Tour de la Lanterne (the last medieval lighthouse on the Atlantic): at 70 metres high, you will certainly enjoy views far and wide. If scaling the tower leaves you more hungry than giddy, a detour to La Rochelle’s covered market might fit the bill. It’s open mornings every day of the week, but is especially worth a visit on Saturdays or Wednesdays when it’s even bigger and better. And in the town there is also a myriad of great bistros and cafes to choose from specialising in seafood in particular (the exquisite local oysters even graced the tables of Roman Emperors!). In this region, it’s also worth sampling a Cognac, or trying refreshing local aperitif, Pineau de Charente.
Places to go
Island-hopping: a favourite with chic Parisians and offshore from La Rochelle, Ile de Ré is one of France’s most desirable island destinations. It has glorious beaches, terrific seafood and quaint harbours as well as being a wonderful spot for cycling and hiking. You can also take boat trips from La Rochelle to Ile d’Aix and the mysterious fortress-island, Fort Boyard.
Distance/driving time from La Pignade
Distance/driving time from Les Charmettes
Distance/driving time from Bonne Anse Plage