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La RochelleFrance

See the ocean from multiple angles in this medieval seafaring city, which features beaches, an aquarium, a maritime museum and one of Europe’s largest marinas.

The 10th-century city of La Rochelle, has always been centered on the ocean. Originally a fishing village, La Rochelle developed into one of France’s most important ports, sending off the first French settlers to Quebec. Learn about La Rochelle’s seafaring past in its museums, see the grand structures of its Old Port and dip your feet in the Bay of Biscay on one of its several beaches.

Start out at the Old Port, where you will find the two towers that are La Rochelle’s most iconic landmarks. Tour de la Lanterne guards the port and has a 70-foot-tall (21-meter) spire. Climb to the top for views of the city and the Île de Ré Bridge to the north. The westerly Tour de la Chaîne also has wonderful views from its top. Tour Saint-Nicolas, a third tower identical to Tour de la Chaîne, stands farther west.

Wade in the water off Concurrence Beach, a small stretch of sand west of the Old Port. The larger Minimes Beach lies south of the city.

Head to the harbor to find the Maritime Museum. This consists of eight historic boats floating in the water, three of which you can board and explore for a fee. Learn about the waters around the city at La Rochelle Aquarium. Spanning all three stories of the building is one gigantic shark tank, featuring nurse and reef sharks among others.

The city’s other museums include the Natural History Museum, featuring a wide array of marine fossils, and the Musée des Automates, which exhibits more than 300 animatronic figurines. Check out the Museum of Fine Arts to see a broad collection of European art with an emphasis on the French realist painters from around La Rochelle.

Get around the compact city of La Rochelle on foot and by bus. Reach the city through its regional airport, which is served by inexpensive airlines from many cities around Europe. Otherwise, for the most appropriate experience, enter the city by ferry boat.

Where to stay in La Rochelle

Natural History Museum featuring a park and a house

La Rochelle City Centre

4.5/5Wonderful!(59 area reviews)

La Rochelle City Centre is popular for its waterfront views, and if you're looking for more to see and do, you might think about a trip to Vieux Port or Aquarium La Rochelle.

La Rochelle City Centre
La Pallice, La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, France

La Pallice

Travellers like the historical sites in La Pallice, and Port de la Pallice is a top attraction you might want to visit.

La Pallice

Top hotels in La Rochelle

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Hotel Saint Nicolas
Hotel Saint Nicolas
3 out of 5
£81
per night
19 Apr-20 Apr

Located in La Rochelle City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Grand Temple and Vieux Port. Aquarium La Rochelle and Port des Minimes are also within ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (585 reviews)

"Close to everything, very nice hotel, excellent staff, would go back"…"

Reviewed on 6 Nov 2019

Hotel Saint Nicolas
Mercure La Rochelle Vieux Port Sud Hotel
Mercure La Rochelle Vieux Port Sud Hotel
4 out of 5
£119
per night
27 Apr-28 Apr

Located in La Rochelle City Centre, this hotel is steps away from L'Espace Encan de La Rochelle and Aquarium La Rochelle. Vieux Port and Port des Minimes are ...

4.2/5Very Good! (298 reviews)

"Convenient for city centre and restaurants & landmarks by tram or on foot plus 250 metres from rail station"…"

Reviewed on 16 Jan 2020

Mercure La Rochelle Vieux Port Sud Hotel
Novotel La Rochelle Centre
Novotel La Rochelle Centre
4 out of 5
£116
per night
2 Apr-3 Apr

This family-friendly La Rochelle hotel is located near the airport, within a 15-minute walk of Charruyer Park and Vieux Port. Aquarium La Rochelle and Port des ...

4.3/5Excellent! (544 reviews)

"Great hotel in a good position. We had out dog with us so the walk through the park was wonderful. Efficient and friendly staff. Lovely room with comfortable bed. Good breakfast choice."…"

Reviewed on 31 Dec 2019

Novotel La Rochelle Centre

Popular things to do in La Rochelle

Vieux Port
Image for Vieux Port

Vieux Port

4.5/5(39 reviews)

Explore the waterfront in La Rochelle with a trip to Vieux Port. While you're in the area, stroll along the beautiful beaches.

Aquarium La Rochelle
Image for Aquarium La Rochelle

Aquarium La Rochelle

4.5/5(9 reviews)

Bring the kids on a fun ride down an elevator submarine into mysterious depths to see sharks, jellyfish and other rare oddities.

Minimes Beach
Image for Minimes Beach

Minimes Beach

4.5/5(6 reviews)

Spend the afternoon enhancing your tan on La Rochelle’s largest beach, before viewing the lavish yachts in the port.

Maritime Museum
Image for Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum

5/5(2 reviews)

Walk along the preserved decks of these historic vessels and find out about their significant roles in French maritime history.

Tour St. Nicolas
Image for Tour St. Nicolas

Tour St. Nicolas

5/5(6 reviews)

Learn about the local history of La Rochelle when you spend time at Tour St. Nicolas. Wander the waterfront and beautiful beaches in the area.

La Rochelle Central Market
Image for La Rochelle Central Market

La Rochelle Central Market

5/5(1 review)

You can enjoy retail therapy at La Rochelle Central Market during your visit to La Rochelle. Wander the waterfront and beautiful beaches in the area.

Top activities in La Rochelle

Grand Cru Château & Saint-Emilion Visit From Bordeaux
Image for Grand Cru Château & Saint-Emilion Visit From Bordeaux

Grand Cru Château & Saint-Emilion Visit From Bordeaux

94% of travellers recommend
£64
Per adult
Saint Emilion Full-Day Wine Tour From Bordeaux
Image for Saint Emilion Full-Day Wine Tour From Bordeaux

Saint Emilion Full-Day Wine Tour From Bordeaux

94% of travellers recommend
£114
Per adult
Great Cabernets of the Medoc Wine Day Tour From Bordeaux
Image for Great Cabernets of the Medoc Wine Day Tour From Bordeaux

Great Cabernets of the Medoc Wine Day Tour From Bordeaux

92% of travellers recommend
£103
Per adult
La Cité du Vin with Wine Tasting
Image for La Cité du Vin with Wine Tasting

La Cité du Vin with Wine Tasting

82% of travellers recommend
£18
Per adult
Private tour of Bordeaux in a Citroën 2CV - 1,5 Hour
Image for Private tour of Bordeaux in a Citroën 2CV - 1,5 Hour

Private tour of Bordeaux in a Citroën 2CV - 1,5 Hour

100% of travellers recommend
£181
Per adult
Wine, Sweet and Savory Food Walking Tour in Bordeaux
Image for Wine, Sweet and Savory Food Walking Tour in Bordeaux

Wine, Sweet and Savory Food Walking Tour in Bordeaux

100% of travellers recommend
£91
Per adult

Reviews of La Rochelle

4.7

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
32
5 - Excellent 68.08510638297872%
4 - Good
15
4 - Good 31.914893617021278%
3 - Okay
0
3 - Okay 0%
2 - Disappointing
0
2 - Disappointing 0%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

19 Jan 2020

Absolutely loved the town and will definitely visit again.

5/5 - Excellent

Cat

10 Dec 2019

The General Humbert pub is a fantastic, welcoming pub before going to the Marcel Deflandre Stadium which is an amazing rugby stadium. Restaurants good and lovely views everywhere you look.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

30 Sep 2019

Beautiful place and a lovely weekend overall.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

16 Sep 2019

Just a great place to wine, dine and unwind. Perfect!

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

6 Sep 2019

A beautiful city with gorgeous buildings and a safe feeling about the whole place

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

1 Sep 2019

La Rochelle is a lovely port with many very good restaurants and lots of things to do.