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Overview

Your first port of call in this historic seaport, which gets its nickname from the brilliant limestone facades of its buildings, should be the Aquarium, a state of the art attraction that is ideal for families. La Rochelle counts a number of museums that recall its roll as France’s foremost port between the 14th and 17th centuries, including the Musée du Nouveau Monde (New World Museum) – the French settlers of Quebec departed from here – and the Musée Maritime. But if you’d prefer to get out into the great outdoors, head for the national park at Marais Poitevin to the north, which offers boating and cycling along emerald-green waterways. ...

Your first port of call in this historic seaport, which gets its nickname from the brilliant limestone facades of its buildings, should be the Aquarium, a state of the art attraction that is ideal for families. La Rochelle counts a number of museums that recall its roll as France’s foremost port between the 14th and 17th centuries, including the Musée du Nouveau Monde (New World Museum) – the French settlers of Quebec departed from here – and the Musée Maritime. But if you’d prefer to get out into the great outdoors, head for the national park at Marais Poitevin to the north, which offers boating and cycling along emerald-green waterways. Just 9 miles to the south is the Maris d’Yves nature reserve, which attracts 250 species of birds on their migratory paths to and from North Africa. But if you’d like to mingle with birds of a particularly dazzling plumage, head for the Île de Ré, summer playground of the Parisian rich and famous.

Steve Fallon
About the Expert

Steve Fallon has more than two dozen years of experience as a travel writer and guidebook author, having written or contributed to some 80 Lonely Planet and other guides.

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Steve Fallon for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department. The city is connected to the Île de Ré by a 2.9 km bridge completed on May 19th 1988.
  • Language: French
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    June and September are ideal as the beaches bask in sunshine but most French people are still at work counting the days to/since their summer vacations. Spring is a delight in the national park and nature reserve.