La Rochelle is a city and in western France, and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay,
a part of the Atlantic Ocean.
It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime département.
The city is connected to the Île de Ré by a 2.9 km bridge, completed in 1988.
Its harbour opens into a protected strait, the Pertuis d'Antioche.
read full wikipedia reference about La Rochelle, France
LA ROCHELLE is the most attractive and unspoilt
seaside town in France. Thanks to the foresight of 1970s
mayor Michel Crépeau, its historic seventeenth- to eighteenth-century
centre and waterfront were plucked from the clutches of the developers
and its streets freed of traffic for the delectation of pedestrians.
A real shock-horror outrage at the time, the policy has become
standard practice for preserving old town centres across the
country - more successful than Crépeau's picturesque yellow
bicycle plan, designed to relieve the traffic problem .
La Rochelle has a long
history, as you would expect of such a sheltered Atlantic port.
Eleanor of Aquitaine gave it a charter in 1199, which released
it from its feudal obligations, and it rapidly became a port
of major importance, trading in salt and wine and skilfully exploiting
the Anglo-French quarrels. The Wars of Religion, however, were
particularly destructive for La Rochelle. It turned Protestant
and, because of its strategic importance, drew the remorseless
enmity of Cardinal Richelieu, who laid siege to it in 1627. To
the dismay of the townspeople, who reasoned that no one could
effectively blockade seasoned mariners like themselves, he succeeded
in sealing the harbour approaches with a dyke. The English dispatched
the Duke of Buckingham to their aid, but he was caught napping
on the Île de Ré and badly defeated. By the end
of 1628 Richelieu had starved the city into submission. Out of
the pre-siege population of 28,000, only 5000 survived. The walls
were demolished and the city's privileges revoked. La Rochelle
later became the principal port for trade with the French colonies
in the Caribbean
Antilles and Canada. Indeed, many of the settlers,
especially in Canada, came from this part of France
The Vieux Port is very
much the focus of the town, with pleasure boats moored in serried
ranks in front of the two impressive towers guarding the entrance
to the port. Leading north from the Porte de la Grosse Horloge
, the rue du Palais runs towards the cathedral and several of
the museums on rue Thiers. Between the harbour and the Port des
Minimes , a new marina development 2km south of the town centre,
there are several excellent museums for children and a large
frigate (permanently moored) providing some insight into the
town's seagoing past.
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