48 hours in La Rochelle – Part 1

Hi guys, well it’s been a long time since we had a proper holiday. It’s 3 years this year since we bought our little piece of France, and with us both working full time then, every stolen week off was spent stripping wallpaper, clearing garden debris, or arranging to have things fixed. We can’t remember the last time we had a proper break. Given that I’ve seen my other half for less than a week in the last month, he really needs a bit of R&R, so we planned to do some exploring. Not the kind of exploring you could do on a day trip, but not with an absolute load of travelling either. With 3.1/2 hours the longest leg, the #rosbifroadtrip was born.

We had an easy uneventful drive to La Rochelle, little real traffic, and a couple of toll booths later we were at destination. The drive took us through Le Dorat, home currently to the “Golden Shears” world sheep shearing competition, but the landscape on the whole was pancake flat and uninspiring, like driving through East Yorkshire in the UK. Reminded me how lucky we are to have hills and valleys and dense forests at home in Creuse.

We arrived early evening, so with free on site parking and an easy check in, we were ready to go exploring.

Our hotel was about 25 minutes walk from the bustling marinas of La Rochelle, which suited us perfectly. Les Brises as it was called, was on the tip of a tiny peninsula and overlooked the sea and had distant views of the marina. Our balcony was the perfect place to sit with a glass of wine in an evening, and with the sea breeze, was a lovely respite from the early 30 degree temperatures of the days.

View from our balcony

The hotel decor was typically beachy, bleached pastel colours, driftwood lamps, modern clean and comfortable, we would totally stay here again.

Hotel reception
Our hotel from the sea

Getting a good nights sleep has always been more important to us than being right in the thick of things, and the walk to the old port was a pleasant one, through parkland hugging the coastal path.

Medieval lighthouse of La Rochelle
The gatehouse overlooking the marina

La Belle Gabut

This turned out to be our favourite place on the trip. Formerly disused buildings on an island in the middle of the marina, an eclectic bar, street food haven and entertainment space. Spray painted walls, mis matched chairs and tables, food ranging from burgers to lobster, a cocktail bar, kids play area, photo booth, and space to play pétanque. We especially loved the generational mix of people, from pensioners to toddlers, stag and hen parties, all muddling along together in this bohemian space. Music was great too, from the Monkees, to Zeppelin, TRex to Elton John. We visited every day of our trip, you could lose hours here, highly recommended. It even turned into a surreal Christmas, after much chanting of Pere Noel, Pere Noel, in came the man himself. It was 30 degrees but lots of fun.

Christmas in July

We had a great early dinner at Au Pontons du Vieux Port, on the far side of the marina which we preferred, much quieter but still with great views. My fixed menu of my choice of moules, chocolate fondant and a beer, was less than €15 euros and was very generous, so you can eat well relatively inexpensively here.

Curry moules frites

Chocolate Fondant and a cafe gourmande

Evening over the marina

We headed back to the hotel for a relatively early night, before two more full days of exploring. So far so good!

Sun setting over the beach

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