Whether you’re here as a couple, with family or friends, for just a weekend or a week, La Rochelle has lots to offer. Here’s what not to miss when you stay in our beloved city.
Discover the city’s stunning range of museums as you stroll under the 13th century arcades and along the cobbled streets of the historic centre.
Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum)
Musée Maritime (Maritime Museum)
Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum)
Musée du Nouveau Monde (Museum of the New World)
• Tourist sites and the Vieux Port
From one quay to the next, La Rochelle’s Vieux Port is a beauty to behold. Since this autumn, the Quai Vallin has been renovated with a new esplanade of light flagstones. Along a radiant new square frequented by children and adults, and along the Bassin à Flot where the majority of pleasure boats in the port area are moored, bike users can enjoy a wide cycling route. Operational since the renovation of the Quai Valin, this new route will be extended before the end of this year to connect with the Quai Georges Simenon. At the end, the footbridge spanning the Ancien Bassin des Chalutiers will also be restored, but pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to cross it on foot to enjoy a unique panorama of the three towers of La Rochelle, the access channel to the Old Port and the Atlantic Ocean.
• Arcades and old town
Discover La Rochelle's old town and its 13th century arcades, its cobbled streets, and its numerous bourgeois and monumental houses.
Opened in 1988, this attraction boasts a surface area of 8,845m² and more than 12,000 animals across 600 different maritime species, housed in 75 tanks with more than 3 million litres of water in total.
• Towers of La Rochelle
La Tour St Nicolas, La Tour de la Chaine and La Tour de la Lanterne act as reminders of old-world La Rochelle. Facing the Atlantic and true guardians of the city, these towers are a testimony to the power of La Rochelle through the centuries.
• TOUR SAINT NICOLAS: Like a castle in the city and a palatial residence facing the sea, this military building symbolises the power and wealth of La Rochelle. Standing 42 metres tall, its architecture revolves around a maze of stairs and corridors built into the thick walls.
• TOUR DE LA CHAINE: The gateway to the Vieux Port, the Tour de la Chaine used to watch over the movements of boats and the traffic in the port, and oversaw customs and taxes. New from 1st January 2018: the exhibition “Tous à la plage” (“Everybody to the beach”), an overview of seaside towns from their beginnings to the present day.
• TOUR DE LA LANTERNE (Nicknamed “The Four Sergeants”): The last medieval lighthouse standing on the Atlantic coast at a height of 55 metres and topped with an octagonal Gothic spire, the tower has been a lighthouse and a prison throughout its history. It contains more than 600 pieces of graffiti sculpted into its walls by inmates across three centuries.
• Open daily except for the first Monday of every month.
- Opening times from April to September: 10 am to 1 pm; 2:15 pm to 6:30 pm
- Opening times from October to March: 10 am to 1 pm; 2:15 pm to 5:30 pm
• Hôtel de ville
The beating heart of our maritime city since the 13th century, La Rochelle’s town hall was unfortunately the victim of a raging fire in 2013. Following a period of reconstruction, you can once again visit this historic building so beloved by the citizens of La Rochelle.
• Guided tours
Take a stroll around the old town and the Vieux Port, discovering the past of this free city of commerce – the memory of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the antics of Henry IV, the siege of Cardinal Richelieu – as well as falling in love with the present day with its lively quays and terraces, the colours of its market, and the calm of its English-style parks.
• The market
Entirely devoted to food, this true local institution is the perfect place to experience the very best of French produce. Facing a timber-frame Renaissance house, the 19th century market hall is filled with fishmongers, cheesemongers, charcutiers, and other sellers of the very best of the region’s produce.