Visit La Rochelle on the Atlantic Coast and enjoy an array of adventures one the water’s edge! From the old port, the witness of several centuries of maritime traditions, to its wild and preserved string of islands, your camping holiday in La Rochelle promises to be jam-packed with activities. So where do you start? Follow our guide to the Top 7 must-sees in La Rochelle this summer!
1. The Vieux-Port in La Rochelle: come and play pirates!
Your first stop, the Vieux-Port, the emblematic old port of La Rochelle! Flanked by its 3 illustrious guardians, the towers of La Lanterne, Saint-Nicolas and La Chaîne, all listed historical monuments, it looks like something out of a pirate movie. In fact, did you know that the La Lanterne Tower is the oldest lighthouse on the Atlantic Coast? However, if you want to admire the most stunning view of the city, Saint-Nicolas Tower offers a spectacular vista, perfect for pinpointing your next port of call!
2. The old town: step back in time
Go through the impressive Great Clock Gate, the old city gate topped with a clock tower, to reach the heart of the old town with its 263 listed monuments. The remarkable heritage can be admired whichever way you look and includes ornate façades, half-timbered houses and gorgeous townhouses. Head for Saint Louis cathedral, whose classical exterior is no match for the sublime paintings and stained-glass windows inside!
3. La Rochelle Aquarium: dive deep into the oceans!
An unbeatable attraction for the family, La Rochelle Aquarium invites you to explore the world’s oceans in just two hours! Whatever your age, you’ll feel dwarfed when you come face to face with the Pacific sharks, the turtles of the Sargasso Sea and the majestic octopuses of the Mediterranean! Specially designed for children, there is a fun and informative trail on which the whole family can enjoy an incredible immersive experience.
4. La Rochelle’s museums: explore the city’s past
To discover life as it once was in La Rochelle, head for the museums! The celebrated Maritime Museum embarks you on a journey through history aboard authentic ships that are listed as historic monuments. Among other exhibits, you can explore the meteorological frigate France 1, the real star of the museum, from which children will take home their own special diploma.
History buffs can quench their thirst for knowledge at the La Rochelle Bunker Museum, 280 m² dedicated to the Second World War, while amateurs of painting will head for the Fine Arts Museum. And if it rains unexpectedly during the day, don’t hesitate to visit all three!
5. Les Halles market: taste the very best seafood!
In La Rochelle, even break times have a special flavour. At lunchtime, be sure to sample some of the many specialities of the Charente: seafood, including the famous oysters from the Marennes-Oléron basin, as well as potatoes, goat’s cheese or even the millas charentais, a corn flan that will round off your meal beautifully. To be sure of the quality of the produce you buy, there is only one place to go: the popular Halles de La Rochelle market hall! Located in the heart of the old town, the best local producers gather here, their multicoloured stalls surrounded by old-world charm. In the evening, head to Rue Saint-Jean du Pérot to try out one of the best restaurants in town.
6. Les Minimes beach: laze in the sun all day long!
As well as being a port city with thousands of historical tales to tell, La Rochelle is also a seaside resort where you can enjoy everything the ocean has to offer! Swap the city’s cobblestones for lovely fine sand with a trip to Les Minimes beach! You can’t miss it: it adjoins the marina of the same name, which is one of the largest in the world. Facing the Le Bout du Monde lighthouse, you can go stand-up paddling, sailing, fishing on foot or simply relax, of course.
7. The islands of Ré, Oléron and Aix: set sail!
While La Rochelle is enough to fill anyone with wonder, we also like to cast off and continue our adventure at sea. The city is surrounded by a string of islands, each one more captivating than the last, with the Île de Ré topping the list! There are several sea links but you can also cross the bridge to reach Ré by car or camper van. There, you will discover the island’s Vauban fortifications, its inescapable salt marshes, its unspoilt beaches and its immaculate white houses which have earned it the nickname of “Ré la Blanche”.
To the south, the island of Oléron comes to the fore, with its emblematic multicoloured fishermen’s huts, where you can taste the best oysters in the region. Make sure you take a trip out to sea to approach the famous Fort Boyard: the best way is on board an authentic rig whose captain will reveal all the fort’s secrets.
Stay at a seaside campsite opposite La Rochelle
To visit La Rochelle and its must-see attractions, treat yourself to one of the best spots! Just a few minutes from the town’s landmark towers, your Sandaya campsite awaits beside one of the most beautiful beaches in the Charente-Maritime. Between dips in the water, you'll have plenty of time to prepare your next escapade!
If you are lucky enough to prolong your camping holiday, explore the many treasures around La Rochelle: the Île de Ré and its well-preserved seaside resorts, Rochefort and its historic arsenal, La Palmyre and its amazing zoo, the Marennes basin and its tasty oysters... so many micro-adventures that will make your holiday on the Atlantic coast extra special.