Spent the last five days in La Rochelle on the Atlantic Ocean shoreline of France. This is a city dating to the tenth century and with historical ties to Henry II, the Knights Templar, the Hundred Years War, the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution. There are significant buildings, excellent restaurants, and sandy beaches. A trio of towers stand watch over the old and new harbors, and out in the Atlantic, Ile de Ré, Ile d’Aix, and Ile d’Oléron wait as sentinels to the mainland. I was excited about visiting the area largely because of this interesting history and the potential to walk on the beach. I was unprepared for how much the area would remind me of my hometown, Wilmington, NC. From the smell of the salt marshes to the dunes climbing up from the shoreline, there was plenty to make me homesick.
But lest I actually think I’m back home in the the Southeastern US, La Rochelle and the region of the Charente River assert their French-ness with their historical landmarks that simply can be found nowhere else but Europe.
La Rochelle proper’s Gros Horloge, or Big Clock:
Walk through the archway underneath the clock to La Rochelle’s shopping area in buildings that date to just this side of the middle ages. Here you’ll find everything from classic French discount shopping at Monoprix to fancy boutiques with artisan items or designer labels.
My friends in front of La Boussole, the restaurant where I had one of the best meals of my life. Seriously. This calibre of food is rarely found in a small town like my beloved Wilmington. Maybe close, but…this is FRANCE, for Pete’s sake!