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Visit to La Rochelle, France
I had wanted to visit La Rochelle again for many many years, probably since I left it after living there as a child. Most people can go back and visit their childhood home. More than half the people in the world still live where they were born. Many more live close to the town where they were born. Not me. I have lived most of my life in Texas or California, a long way from France!
So I wasn’t sure if I would ever get back. Thank heavens I did. La Rochelle is a vacation spot for native French people who want to get away for the weekend and stay by the beach. Especially sailing enthusiasts. It used to have an American Army base which is where my father worked but it was closed down years ago.
We arrived in the beginning of February 2015. It was incredibly cold, the coldest of our trip except for Carcassonne. La Rochelle sits on the Atlantic coast so it gets very windy and it’s pretty far North so February probably wasn’t the best time to visit. But I loved it anyway.
We got a very nice apartment, right by the beach and close to a bus stop to get into the town. As usual I booked it on Hotels.com.
How to Get Around in La Rochelle
It is very easy to get around in La Rochelle. The buses are easy to navigate. All of them go to a central spot in town straight across from the main cathedral. At that main station there are bus stops with the numbers of the routes clearly marked and a station in the middle with information. If you use Google maps, the bus stops are clearly marked on the maps and at every stop there are maps of the routes. Also, almost all young people in France speak English and will help you figure out the correct routes so if you get confused, just ask.
What to Do in La Rochelle, France
This is the main clock tower in La Rochelle. It’s at the top of the old fortress gate into the old part of town. It’s fun to just walk around in La Rochelle and look at the old buildings and pop into cute cafes. This is not a bustling adventure town, but a pleasant restful get away town.
Saint Louis Cathedral, La Rochelle, France
The next day we took the bus to town on a quest to see the cathedral I attended as a child. It was across from the major bus stop so easy to get to. I was trembling when we went in, and when I saw it, I cried.
Lining both sides of the center set of pews were the lamp posts I must have subconsciously remembered all my life because I had forgotten them until that moment, yet I have had a fixation on beautiful lamp posts all my life. They fascinate me and now I know why. The ones in that cathedral are very beautiful! The stained glass is also quite beautiful so I snapped a few photos of the windows too.
Stained Glass in La Rochelle, France
The outside of the cathedral is really quite plain, unlike many of the beautiful cathedrals in the other cities we went to, but the inside is so beautiful. Here is a plaque of the dedication of the church. I remembered it too. The cathedral was dedicated by Pope Innocent XI in 1648!!!
It still amazes me that churches are so old in Europe! The sense of history is palpable and yet the buildings seem modern except for the style. Amazing that they have lasted all these hundreds of years!
Here’s an Angel in the sanctuary. I have loved Angels all my life too. Maybe it stems from that time when I went to church all the time while I lived in La Rochelle!
The next few days we spent part of every day searching for my old house, but we never found it. But it was fun trying to find it, as we walked all over the whole town and saw loads of very cute houses. We took photos of the famous clock tower, and the train station which hasn’t changed since I left it all those years ago. Here’s the tower at the top of the train station.
Sailing in La Rochelle, France
We also walked along the harbor and saw all the sailboats. La Rochelle has more sail boats than any other harbor in Europe, as it has great winds for sailing all year, but it was so cold I don’t think anyone went out while we were there. But if you love sailing, you can’t go wrong by visiting La Rochelle!
Downtown the sidewalks are all covered and there are archways on the sides so you can look out as you walk. I think this is because it is always windy there. I was so glad we stopped there though, as it brought back many very pleasant memories. I might not ever get to go back so it was wonderful to see it.
Where to Eat in La Rochelle, France
Like every other town in France, the food is incredible. We bought our own to cook in our apartment, but stopped in little cafes too, for coffee, hot chocolate and croissants. We bought some wonderful chocolates in a little shop and ate them right away. Fishing is huge in La Rochelle so you can get awesome sea food! Just stop in any cafe and you won’t be disappointed!
La Rochelle was darling and pleasant. I highly recommend it especially if you like to sail! Here’s a fountain close to the train station. It was dusk, and the sky was a beautiful shade of Blue, don’t you think?
All Photos, © Heather Burns, All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy.