La Rochelle

Pyrenees Trip - Day 5

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.

Towers at La Rochelle

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.

La Rochelle

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.

Cathedral at Place de VerdunLa Rochelle Town Hall 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.

Harbour Entrance at Night

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.

Pyrenees Trip - Day 4

Thursday, 19th July, 2007 On Thursday, we drove down to La Rochelle. The route was pretty easy, though the last half mile is always the problem - we missed our turning in La Rochelle and had to loop through the one way system.

We stayed in a place called the hotel de bordeaux near the old port. The room was quite small, but servicable. The room had aircon, which was welcome after a hot journey.

Once we had rested, we went out to have a little look around, and ended up at the aquarium which is only a hundred metres or so from the hotel.

JellyfishSeahorseHermit CrabCuttlefish

The Aquarium is a pretty good one, which a wide range of fish, well displayed, and a shark tank which covers the height of the building (with the exception of the rooftop restaurant, where the keepers can gain access for feeding etc)

There are some huge tanks in the aquarium, some filled with giant silvery fish, some with shark - and some small tanks too, with coral, or seahorses.

The clownfish in the sharktank seemed much more nervous than the ones in a tank of their own, not surprising really!

It takes some time to go around the aquarium, and there were several instances where I thought "Hang on a minute, they're getting the cast of 'Finding Nemo' back together!"

Fish

To quote the film: Shark Bait: Brou! Ha! Ha!

As one emerges from the aquarium, the path winds through a tropical area. It has terrapin moving about, and piranha fish in tanks too, there is a bridge going over such a tank. The path goes around this area, and emerges back into the entrance foyer.

We ate in the rooftop restaurant at the Aquarium. It was good food, with nice views. There was an issue with the toilets there (let's just say that some punter had been anti-social), but they dealt with it reasonably when notified. To be fair, this shouldn't be a point against them, as it could have easily been any establishment - it'd only become a negative if there were problems on a second visit.

It had been a long day - on Friday we would explore some of La Rochelle. For now, sleep beckoned.