Known as “La Ville Blanche” (the White City), La Rochelle is a delicate concoction of pale limestone, warm light and sea air. The city was one of the most important ports in France during the Renaissance, and its rich past is visible in the city’s grand arcades, turrets and timber-framed houses. Due to the foresight of mayor Michel Crépeau, the city’s historic centre and waterfront were wrested from developers, and its streets freed of traffic in the 1970s. Controversial at the time, the policy has since been adopted across the country – even surpassing Crépeau’s successful yellow bicycle plan, imitated in Paris and London.

The Vieux Port, where pleasure boats are moored, is the heart of the town. You can stroll very pleasantly for an hour or more along the seafront in either direction from the harbour: down to the Port des Minimes, a vast marina development 2km south of the centre, or west, along a promenade and strip of parkland, towards Port Neuf. Away from the centre, the area around La Rochelle is ideal for young families, with miles of safe, sandy beaches.

 

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Forget about the sleazy tourist traps in Pigalle, there's only one place to see burlesque in Paris: the Crazy Horse, opened in 1951. Eleanor Aldridge spent the …

25 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge local_activity Special feature
Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

France remains one of the most visited countries in the world – and it's easy to see why. From the bucolic charm of Provence to the metropolitan allure of Par…

14 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors help Quiz
7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

The ingredients for a great European weekend break are simple. You’ll need a walkable city centre, a handful of excellent restaurants, some cool bars, afforda…

14 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month