Friday, 20th July, 2007 On Friday, we walked around La Rochelle - at least, the parts near the old port.
It's a very pedestrian friendly place, with cars being restricted on many streets, and cycles readily available.
There are three towers which are visitable in La Rochelle. Two guard the port entrance, and the other is a little further down.
The first tower was by far the most interesting for me. Inside, the corridors twisted and turned, making their way to the top.
The sister tower, the chain tower, is pretty plain by comparison (if pushed for time, this is the one to skip). It is essentially a few rooms stacked onto each other.
The third tower is very simple again, but it has some interesting graffiti inside from prisoners held there in the last few hundred years. The tower itself is more interesting - and there is a high walkway which gives nice views. The high walkway feels quite precarious, with a narrow path and low protective wall. Looking down, upon the smaller peaks of the tower, they don't see quite straight, somehow.
Having visited the towers, stopping for some lunch between tower 1 and 2, we walked up to the Place de Verdun and visited the cathedral there. Then we went to have a look at the town hall, an impressive structure - almost like a small palace.
We had some refreshments in a bar near the hotel which sold shots of what tasted like alcoholic fruit juice. It was a really nice setting, an old style bar which looks like it's been unchanged for 50 years. It had old posters, peeling paint and cheap prices. It was very popular with the locals. Unfortunately, I can't remember what it was called. I'll try and find out and then amend this paragraph. I do know that it was on Rue St. Nicolas, not far from the junction with Quai Louis Durand, on the west side of the road.
In the evening, we ate at the old port. There were lots of street entertainers, one guy was very funny - an acrobat who involved the audience in his stunts - climbing up on one guy's shoulders, whilst getting kids to run around being cavemen. There was a fireeater, who kept having to dampen out the flames on his goatee (I think he was missing something rather obvious about flammability of hair), and inline skaters who did slaloms around obstacles at high speed.
In short, La Rochelle is a nice place to spend a day. Maybe two. Very possibly three if you go slowly. More than that is pushing it.