If you are looking to visit an unspoilt French town on your next holiday, then a trip to La Rochelle will be tough to beat. Rich in history, with many modern attractions, La Rochelle is the destination of choice for both locals and holiday makers.
Back in the 1970’s, the City Mayor Michel Crepeau was focused on preserving the historic character of the town. In a move that was quite unpopular at the time, he pedestrianized much of the city’s seventeenth and eighteenth century centre. He also prevented modern developments from being approved for planning permission in the historic centre and along the waterfront. His commitment to the historic character of the town has not held the city back (as was feared at the time) but instead make it a delightful place to visit.
Based on the west coast of France, in the region of Vendee, La Rochelle was a port of great importance, particularly in the trade of salt and wine. The Vieux Port remains a popular destination today and the ‘Porte de la Grosse Horloge ‘a Gothic gateway to the port still has a dominating presence. Without the history, but with plenty of class, is the relatively modern marina, where you can aspire to owning one of the stylish boats. If you would like to get out onto the water, there are also daily boat trips from La Rochelle harbour to the local islands from May until September.
The city has its own beach, so after a morning of shopping in the unique boutiques along the Rue du Palais, you can enjoy relaxing on the sand. In addition to the main shops, there are regular craft and antique markets in the town on most weekends, which are enjoyable to browse around. There are also plenty of delightful French cafes where you can sit with a coffee and patisserie and watch the world go by.
If you are visiting with children, La Rochelle has a number of museums including the Musee des Automates, which contains a collection of around 300 automated puppets. There is a large aquarium with a wide variety of sea life. This includes a specialist centre for sea turtles, where rescued turtles are cared for until they are strong enough to be released back into the sea. Probably the most popular site is the large shark tank which contains reef sharks, hammerheads and a sawfish that has been at the aquarium for 20 years.
If you are enjoying holidays in Vendee, take time for a trip to La Rochelle, so you can discover the delights of this unspoilt French town. Amongst the many attractions there will be something to please every member of your family.
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