La Rochelle, France: Best Things To Do in the City of Sailing

Greetings from La Rochelle, the vibrant capital of the Charente Maritime region on France’s west coast. The city is well-known for its exciting maritime past as well as its imposing medieval towers that serve as the city’s and port’s entrances. Apart from this, Old Town, with its plethora of taverns, cafes, restaurants, and mouthwatering ice cream, is a great destination to spend a few days! The best activities in La Rochelle, France, are listed here.

Top Things to do in La Rochelle

La Rochelle is a city full of attractions, such as a lovely harbor and some excellent beaches nearby. If you venture a bit farther, you’ll find breathtaking beaches with sheer cliff faces and lesser-known islands that seem worlds apart from France!

Cycle Around the City

One of the first French cities to implement a bike-first policy was La Rochelle. You can explore a tonne of bike routes and green parks as a result. Rent a bike, tour the city, take in the ambiance, and make stops to snap pictures of the many attractions.

Note: The city is highly walkable, even if you don’t wish to bike. The majority of the city center is free of traffic, making it an excellent place for travelers to explore.

Have a Picnic in the Park

The expansive park around the historic city is the first thing you’ll notice about La Rochelle. The towers provide a great view of the verdant surroundings. Shop for cheese and baguettes from the French grocery, then have a picnic in this lovely park.

Also read:
 Aubeterre-sur-Dronne (the prettiest village in France!)

Visit the Towers of La Rochelle, France

Two towers can be seen at La Rochelle, situated where the harbor opens. There originally was a massive chain linking the towers that guarded the port entrance. Constructed over 800 years ago, these imposing symbols of the city still stand today! The towers were all intended to be inhabited; throughout time, they were used for a chapel, a jail, and other purposes.

Discover the rich history, explore three towers, and reach the summit for breathtaking views over the city, the islands, and the sea.

The Three Towers

A helpful hint is to go on one of the guided tours, which will teach you about the towers’ long maritime history. Typically, they also cover other La Rochelle attractions like museums and the historic town hall.

Visit the Town Hall 

One of the town’s most striking features is the elaborate town hall in La Rochelle. Constructed during the 17th century, it’s believed to be among the oldest town halls in all of France—that’s still in use for the intended function! With its intricate carvings, white pillars, turrets, and towers, it resembles a palace rather than a town hall. A fantastic place to start learning about the ancient quarter is the town hall.

Also read: A 3-day city trip in Paris

Try the Popular Ice Cream of Ernest Le Glacier

On sunny days, I eat ice cream while meandering around the streets of charming French towns. Total happiness! While there are many excellent ice cream shops in La Rochelle, Ernest Le Glacier is the most well-known, and it lives up to the hype!

Tip: Visit the pub “La Guignette” for an aperitif once the evening gets going. It’s close to Ernest Le Glacier and has a really classic French feel. The distance is only three minutes by foot.

Explore the Beaches

Due to its west coast location, La Rochelle has an abundance of stunning beaches that are perfect for strolls and exploration. Numerous treks along the coast begin at the cliffs, which are popular walking destinations.

Plage des Minimes

A lengthy white sand beach called Plage des Minimes is easily accessible by foot from La Rochelle. It’s ideal for a day spent kayaking in the sea and gathering shells. After enjoying a lovely sunset view from the cliffs, dine at one of the restaurants serving delectable locally caught seafood.

Plage de la Concurrence

The distance between Plage de la Concurrence and La Rochelle harbor is ten minutes. From here, you have excellent views of the La Lanterne Tower. Because it’s closest to the town, it’s also really convenient.

Chef de Baie

When visiting La Rochelle, be sure to check out this little sandy beach. There’s a kayak launch location off to the side, and it’s also where the clifftop trek begins. It’s ideal for families because a lifeguard watches over the swimming area.

Take a Day Trip to the Islands

Due to its west coast location, La Rochelle has an abundance of stunning beaches that are perfect for strolls and exploration. Numerous treks along the coast begin at the cliffs, which are popular walking destinations.

Ile d’Aix

After 30 minutes of driving south of La Rochelle, arrive at Fouras and take a 20-minute boat ride to your dream desert island! You may experience the whole tropical experience on Ile d’Aix, with its azure waters, white sand coves, and tranquility devoid of traffic. You might easily spend a day cycling gently between the beaches in this serene area.

Plan if you wish to stay the night. Due to the small size of the island, lodging options are limited.

Read more: The complete guide to Aix Island & Rochefort

How to get to Rochefort & Ile d’Aix

Getting to Rochefort is easy from big cities like Paris or Bordeaux.

By Train

The train travels from Paris in about four to five hours. Bordeaux or La Rochelle, a nearby town, typically undergoes one modification.

By Car

Driving from Paris to Rochefort takes about five hours. The trip by bus could take up to nine hours.

By Plane

The closest large airport is Bordeaux (but La Rochelle has a tiny one with several international possibilities). You can take flights from Bordeaux Airport to major European destinations like London, Amsterdam, or Barcelona.

Where to Stay in Rochefort & Aix Island

Given the size of Rochefort, there are many places to stay, ranging from luxurious apartments with pools to low-cost hotels. We stayed at Hotel Lafayette for one night. We suggest lodging at the beachside community of Fouras if you’d prefer to be nearer the beach.

Alternatively, you may really experience the calm island lifestyle by spending a few days on Aix Island, if that is possible!

Best places to eat in Rochefort

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