Before I decided to buy my two-day ticket to La Rochelle, I only knew this city from images – not even from the recommendations or stories of friends. As those pictures had promised, I expected some nice French architecture and a beautiful port; the sea and a pretty city was all I had in mind. What I didn’t expect was to be as pleasantly surprised as I was by what was just a two-day trip. It gave me the ultimate French experience, one I had no idea I even needed! But what is it exactly that makes La Rochelle the perfect weekend getaway?

1. The old city is just beautiful.

This is something that is going to strike you straight away. When I went to the old city for the first time, I couldn’t help the feeling that some of these buildings are in fact some beautifully-designed French-style doll houses. Rows of white facades with pastel-colored doors felt so dreamlike I couldn’t believe they were real. What makes it even more magical is that these buildings actually come from the XVth and XVIIIth centuries and are an important part of La Rochelle’s architectural heritage.

 

2. You can see La Rochelle by foot in two days with no hurry.

One of La Rochelle’s charms is that it’s quite small and is easily accessible by foot. The old city is full of nice little streets, but two days are more than enough to explore them all without sacrificing other highlights of your trip (unless you are planning to visit all of the museums!).

3. You can also travel by bike!

Apart from bike rental shops, there are three bike docking stations called Velo Yelo located around the city. If you prefer to get around quicker, cycling is definitely a recommended option (in this case you might also be able to squeeze in your museum trips!). La Rochelle is such a calm place that you don’t have to worry much about the traffic. There’s also a promenade along the port which is great for a little picturesque cycling trip.

4. The ultimate French breakfast will get you in the right mood.

On my second and last day I woke up early and headed to the city to get some breakfast. I will not exaggerate when I say that the city was completely empty at 10am. It was a Sunday morning and I can understand closed shops, but where did all the people go? On top of that, no breakfast café seemed to be open either. At first a bit bitter about the fact that I will probably have to starve until the afternoon, I continued strolling around the city. I finally found a breakfast place and it was definitely worth the wait. It was a small café located in the building of the Marché du Centre Ville. Choosing a table outside on this sunny morning was a no-brainer as well as ordering a classic – baguette with jam and honey and a coffee. Around 11-12am the city started to slowly wake up. I think it was a pretty good reminder to slow down, take care of yourself and just enjoy the moment (even if you have a limited
amount of time with an infinite number of things to see).

 

5. There’s a park to enjoy some quiet nature time.

 

 

Parc Charruyer is located on the side of La Rochelle’s old city. It is a perfect break from the city life when you can just sit, relax and enjoy the silence. It is a complete opposite to – sometimes quite lively – La Rochelle.

 

6. Enjoying waffles and crepes by the port is just what you need. Believe me.

There are plenty of stalls serving crepes and waffles by the port. Once you have your treats warm and ready, I highly recommend sitting by the sea with your feet hanging above the water and enjoying the calming view of the port. I’m telling you, this is the ultimate ‘treat yourself’ moment. Don’t miss it!

 

7. Visiting the old market will fulfill your foodie dreams.

The Marché du Centre Ville looks amazing both from the outside and on the inside. It is a XIXth century building full of delicious-looking foods. All of a sudden, you feel like buying them all; fruits, vegetables, cheeses, wines, cured meats, fresh meats or seafood – you name it.

 

8. There’s a crazy outdoor party place to give you the night of a lifetime.

 

 

Belle du Gabut is a ‘guinguette’, as my Airbnb host called it. Guinguettes originate from bohemian party establishments located along the Seine. They used to be particularly popular among writers, artists and intellectuals over the past two centuries. There were definitely bohemian vibes in Belle du Gabut. A crazy costume dance party on one side (you could get dressed up yourself in their little costume shop in a van) and circus-styled caravans with food and wine on the other side. I don’t even speak French but I still ended up singing French songs like there was no tomorrow!

 


This is a guest post by Anna.

Anna is a Polish graphic designer based in London with a strong passion for traveling that she has carefully nurtured ever since she was little. Once in London, she realized the benefits of living in a city with five airports and decided to use this opportunity to the fullest. Her perfect trip involves eating a lot of local food and getting excited about literally everything.