Sunday, 15 September 2013

La Rochelle - Part 1

After our short stay in Barcelona, we went on a 7-day cruise around the western Mediterranean, at the invitation of a very dear friend of ours.  I will come back to the cruise at a later date, as a blog about the Charente is somewhat overdue! This account is actually related to Charente-Maritime, the French department sandwiched between Charente and the sea. We spent 3 days in La Rochelle, its capital city, and the surrounding areas just recently; this was part of my birthday present from Nigel.  I have, for some time now, wanted to see La Rochelle and he booked this as a surprise!  I had no idea where we were going, and as he took a winding back-road route, it was only when we were quite close that I realised what our destination was! The area enjoys up to 3000 hours of sunshine every year, on a par with the climate in the south of France!

La Rochelle is  a seaport on the Bay of Biscay,  part of the Atlantic Ocean. The city is connected to the Île de Ré, a large offshore island, by a 2.9 km bridge completed on 19 May 1988.  This port city has a long, interesting and complex history and for those who may like to read more about it, I suggest that you take a look HERE. I apologise for a longer post than usual, but there was so much to see and there will still be a part 2!

We crossed over to the Ile de Ré (toll charge 16 euro return -phew!) on the last day we were there and I will give you a brief photographic tour of some of the sights in the next part! But in La Rochelle itself.............

The "Vieux Port" ("Old Harbour") is at the heart of the city; the area is very picturesque, the quays and adjacent streets lined with seafood restaurants and stalls selling all kinds of things! Here are  two of the three world famous towers of the Old Port, guarding the entrance to the harbour. The Tour Saint-Nicolas is the tower on the left and the other is the Tour de la Chaîne, the central tower. These two, and the third tower, the Tour de la Lanterne, on the far right of the  photo below, are all that remain of the 14th century medieval walled city defence system destroyed by Cardinal Richelieu, during his siege of the city in 1628, where Huguenots were holding out against the Catholic forces of King Louis XIII.


Tour de la Lanterne.


A more recent and striking monument, erected in 2009 in front of the ancient towers, is in honour of Michel Crépeau, a minister, deputy and mayor of La Rochelle between 1971 and 1999.




L'eglise Saint-Sauveur (St Saviour's Church)
Note from a sign next to the church reads as follows:
"Replacing a 12th century Romanesque church, a Gothic version was pulled down in 1568 during the religious wars; all that remains is its bell tower.  Rebuilt for the third time in the 17th century, the church was burnt down in 1705, only the façade surviving.  The present church consecrated in 1718 has long been the sailors' parish church.
Some of the eroded and crumbling stonework of the bell tower.


and the church beautifully illuminated by night.



Just behind the docks is the Grosse Horloge (Big Clock Tower). I can't fault the description!




The tower was originally a gate into the walled city  of 12th century La Rochelle. In the 13th century, it was named La Porte du Parrot, because it gave access to the suburb of that name. A close-up below...........


We had a thoroughly enjoyable visit to the Aquarium, but I would suggest if you want to visit here, it would be best on a week-day and NOT during the school holidays.  We were there one day before the children went back to school and it was packed with children and parents with push-chairs!!
 
Banner fish

The odd looking Flying gurnard.  It does not actually fly, but appears to, when swimming under water!

Pterois, commonly known as lionfish, is a genus of venomous marine fish found mostly in the Indo-Pacific.


Argyrosomus regius (also known as meagre, shade-fish, salmon-basse or stone basse).  Apparently very tasty with great nutritional value! We've seen some on a restaurant menu since!





I just liked these two stylish and obviously expensive gateways, above and below.


There are still some half-timbered houses in the city, which date back as far  as the 15th century. The arcades themselves were once used by merchants to display their goods.

 Finally, just to prove we really were there (!), myself and Nigel  at the Old Harbour.




see my daily photo diary  HERE

and also - My Life Before Charente Updated 15/09/2013 
Sorry the latter has taken so long to update!!

75 comments:

  1. First of all, you two look fabulous! Second, your pictures are amazing, each and everyone. Third, you make me want to jump on a plane and travel...

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    1. Thanks Roasaria for your kind comments. Is there anything stopping you from travailing? I must say I think we are lucky living in Europe so many places close at hand. I would also like to see America but that is unlikely now, instead I enjoy travelling in my chair following my blogging friends trips around a countries I have not seen. Keep well Diane

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  2. Spectacular pictures! It must have been wonderful to take a cruise in the Mediterranean! I only went to the Island of Elba, which is about a one hour "cruise" from Italy but thinking of the Titanic, I didn't really feel very comfortable.

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    1. Caramella we loved the cruise and no thoughts of the Titanic! More about that later though. Have a good week Diane

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  3. Lovely and informative!

    We're in Paris right now...for a few more days.

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    1. Thanks Freda for the kind comment. I hope the weather in Paris is better than what we have here today!!! Have a wonderful week. Diane

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  4. Beautiful place and great photos, thank you so much for having us come along in your travels. So much history in this place. You have yourself a wonderful week.

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    1. Thanks Horst. Hope the op is coming along well now and that you are walking better. This is a lovely town to visit and it has so much history. Take care Diane

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  5. How fun to take a cruise on the Mediterranean. You guys go to the best places. Your fish photos at the aquarium are amazing Diane.

    Enjoy your trip.
    Sam

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    1. Sam we did enjoy the trip in the Med but that will be another post (or 3 or 4). The aquarium was fantastic, we loved the fish we saw there. Have a good day Diane

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  6. Beautiful scenery and photos Diane. I laughed at your comment about a photo to prove you were there. I almost never get photos of myself when away as I'm the picture taker, lol. I also know what you meant about saying how you ever found time to work now that you are retired and just as busy if not more so. I constantly say the same thing to my friends, lol. It really is true. I truthfully don't have much time for the quilting but I want to do it so I do make efforts now and then. Have a great week ahead. xx

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    1. Joyful we seldom have photos of ourselves, generally I am taking the photos as you say, and Nigel is not keen on having a photo taken!! I must find time to do some sewing and painting, maybe in winter but I have been saying that for a while now!! Keep well Diane

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  7. What a lovely birthday surprise destination and such great photos.

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    1. Susan it was a great birthday present and we both enjoyed the trip. Take care Diane

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  8. What a kind and thoughtful chap you have there!
    I loved La Rochelle and always wanted more time to walk around when we went with friends to the Ile de Re...so your super photographs brought it all back.

    Thank you. And thank you too for your kind wishes on mine.

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    1. Fly I am very lucky having a thoughtful husband. I would have liked to have seen a little more of the town itself, but N has problems walking far so we travelled the area around it by car. More next time. Keep well, both of you Diane

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  9. Wow, such an amazing place. And what a sweetheart that Nigel is to take you here for your birthday.

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    1. Gaelyn it is a lovely town and steeped in history. I am glad Nigel decided on this trip as a present it was the best thing he could have thought of. Take care Diane

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  10. You are so blessed to be able to travel a lot in these beautiful places.

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    1. Rose I have to say living in Europe is ideal as so many places are not that far away. Have a good day Diane

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  11. MI dear Diane: What a wonderful birthday present, love to see you and Nigel on the pictures, you both look great. A lovely place, I enjoyed the pictures as always! And, may I say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you!!

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    1. Pamela I thought it was a great idea for a birthday present and we both got to enjoy it. Thanks for the birthday wishes. Keep well Diane

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  12. What a lovely surprise for you Diane. I am so pleased you enjoyed it. You must spend hours on these blogs of yours as they are packed with such interesting information about the places you visit. As always, this was another fascinating post with great pictures.

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    1. Hi Joan thanks for the kind comment. The research takes ages which is one of the reasons my posts have got further apart. The photo blog is much easier but even that some-days is not so simple! Hope your week is a good one. Diane

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  13. Hello Diane , such a wonderful surprise , so well done to Nigel for that one :-) so happy that you enjoyed it , looks a fabulous place. I was telling Linda (Frenchless in France blog) who I met in Paris and they were there a few weeks ago too , as is it not far from their beach house in France ,, take care xoxo Anne

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    1. Anne, it was the best present ever. Also we both enjoyed it. I will have to think of somewhere for Nigel when he has his next big birthday! Keep well and have a good week, hope you are a bit warmer than we are at the moment! Diane oxox

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  14. Diane, what lovely and beautiful travel, I m sure you and hubby had a lovely and fun time Diane, the pictures always are amazing I love them!!
    xo
    gloria

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    1. Thanks Gloria, Glad you enjoyed the photos. Keep well Diane

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  15. Hello Diane!
    What a wonderful surprise Nigel had... up his sleeve for you!
    A trip I wouldn't mind to do since I don't know La Rochelle.
    You have taken great and interesting shots!
    Keep well, cheerio!

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    1. Thank you Noushka. Nigel said my photos were not up to my usual standard, but most of them were taken with the supermarket special as it is easier to walk around a town with it! Take care Diane

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  16. I always learn so much about your area through your posts. That was very sweet of Nigel to surprise you with a trip to La Rochelle! Amazing photos.

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    1. Pam it was a great surprise, he is always thoughtful though. Glad you enjoyed the trip. keep well Diane

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  17. What a great birthday present! I've not yet been to La Rochelle, but hope to get there one of these days -- in fact I'd love to explore much much more of the Atlantic coast of France. Our son worked in the Vendee for a couple of summers and we enjoyed our visits there very much. Your pictures are wonderful and you and Nigel look absolutely fab!

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    1. The Broad there is so much to see in France and history around every corner. Wish we could just keep on the move but it would not really be practical! Hope you get to see the area one day. Take care Diane

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  18. Well, I'm very late wishing you a Happy Birthday, but Happy Birthday anyhow. This was a wonderful gift. I enjoyed all your photos, amazing place, and the fish photos were great too. And of course it's always lovely to see the person who put together such a lovely post, along with your hubby. Thank you, and wishing you a great week.

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    1. Thanks Denise for the birthday wishes. It was one of the best gift I have had for a birthday, that and the cruise are something I will never forget. Keep well Diane

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  19. What a wonderful trip for you both..Sorry I haven't been around lately..but getting back into visiting my dear friends...
    Your pictures are just wonderful..thanks for sharing all your trips..I always feel like I have been with you..
    xoCarolyn

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    1. Carolyn I have also not been visiting a lot, it has been a busy summer! Glad you enjoyed this post. Take care Diane

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  20. What I lke about your blog is that I get to see the places which are on my travel wish list since forever !

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    1. I have to agree with that comment, so many places I would love to see but I feel like I have visited them with friends via their blogs. Keep well Diane

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  21. What a grand post! I, of course, want more and can't wait to see what else you have to share with us. You would make a great tour director. I hope your week is off to a great start. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Thanks for the kind comment Mary. Not a very good week here so far, chilly and very wet, not a good sign for winter!! Take care Diane

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  22. I really like travelling "with you" through your posts Diane.

    I particularily love the pictures of the fish.

    Have a lovely rest of the week.

    Red

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    1. Thanks Red. I was disappointed with many my fish pictures but some were OK. It was difficult with so many people there and I could not get the focus right! Have a good day, Diane

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  23. Merci pour cette ballade. La Rochelle est une ville que j'ai beaucoup aimée visiter.
    A bientôt

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    1. Nadji merci pour le commentaire. C'est une très jolie ville. Bonne journée, Diane

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  24. Another one of your great tours, Diane. I love that you took the picture to show you were there!!! Those buildings are marvelous, aren't they?
    When I look at the old churches, I just drool... well, that and the old, half-timbered streets. Looks like you had a grand time.

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    1. Deana it is not often we take photos of ourselves, this was a rare occasion :-) It is a really pretty town and much to see in and around the area. As usual in France it is steeped in history. Have a good day Diane

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  25. I really enjoyed this post. My ancestors were Huguenot refugees who came to Virginia (via Holland then England) from a place near La Rochelle--a little village now called St. Nazaire-sur-Charente. I'd love to visit someday. Thanks for the peek.

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    1. Bill hope you manage to get there one day. It is a very interesting area of France. Keep well Diane

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  26. Harbor towns always have their own unique personalities, despite the commonalities. Lovely stonework throughout this one. I especially loved the two gates you featured. And it was nice to see pictures of you and Nigel!

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    1. Marjie the gates stand out very dominantly in the town,think it was the first thing I noticed. There is some beautiful stone work around the place. Not often we get to take photos of ourselves! Hope all is well over there, Diane

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  27. Great monuments and spectacular details, Diane! Being a tropical fish hobbyist I could only enjoy your fish tank shots! :-)

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    1. Thanks JM, glad you enjoyed the fish :-) Have a good day. Diane

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  28. I hope the weather in Paris is better than what we have here today!!! Have a wonderful week. Travesti

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    1. Thanks for the visit and comment but I am along way from Paris so no idea what the weather is like there. It is horrible in the Charente though anyway! Have a good day Diane

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  29. Hello to both of you!
    Thanks for sharing beautiful images.
    The newly wed on the yacht made me look again and again. That must have been fantastic!

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    1. Gunn think you are the only person to have spotted the newly weds. They looked like they were having a great time and the photographer must have been in his element. Thanks for the comment, have a good week Diane

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  30. La Rochelle looks so very familiar; a French seaport and old town like so many. The grey stone is attractive. I wish we could still travel about as we used to do, but husband’s eyes and legs complain when they are overtaxed.
    France is a great love of ours and we have done quite a bit of ‘sightseeing’ there in the past. Your photos and articles will have to remind us of the glories we now miss.

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    1. Friko we are trying to fit as much as we can while we can. N cannot walk for very far so we try to do as little walking as possible. Glad that you are enjoying our travels. Keep well Diane

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  31. Woo hoo! What a great surprise---how nice of Nigel! Great pics of the both of you and the rest are pretty great also. Love the doors as usual. Not sure why they are so fascinating, I always wonder what is going on behind them... And the more sunlight, the better! I love your travelogues, and you should be in the business, Diane!

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    1. Pam it was a lovely surprise and a great present. I would be hopeless in the business Pam, I get very impatient when working with people, now if I could travel with animals ....... ;-) Have a good week.

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  32. Hi Diane .. I've always wanted to visit La Rochelle .. what a brilliant birthday present and such fun finding it as a surprise ... gorgeous photos ..

    Looking forward to part 2, then I can re-read this and comprehend a little more .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary it was a fantastic idea and present, I was very impressed. Will do part 2 as soon as I have time. So much on and so much from the garden to bottle etc, not much time to myself as such. Keep well Diane.

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  33. The age of these old towns just blows my mind. A fascinating place the buildings are so so so old. Lovely shots too. You both are looking fit and relaxed.

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    1. diane, it is hard to believe that some of these places have been there for 100's of years, it is amazing how they have survived but they have, and some through fires, wars and religious wars. It is great though to be able to still see them. Have a good week Diane

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  34. Hi Diane!
    Funny, within the 16 years I've spent in SA, I never saw a phasmid!!
    No need to be scared, they wont eat you... they prefer brumbles! LOL!!
    Cheers, enjoy your day!

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    1. Noushka some of the ones I saw up in Zimbabwe were giants, I will never get used to them!! Have a good week. Diane

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  35. I've always intended to visit La Rochelle but for some reason I've never managed it. Maybe one day. I'll save my pennies before visiting the Ile de Ré, though.

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    1. Phil a small town with so much history. Well worth a visit if you should be this way. Yes the toll to Ile de Rey is not cheap!! Have a great week. Diane

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  36. Hi Diane .. just had another read through and look at the photos - I think I need a trip to France for a lesson in photography! Excellent photos - love that you caught the newly married couple in the harbour - clock one ...

    Good to hear there's so much husbandry going on .. all the bottling, freezing from your wonderfully fertile garden - congratulations .. you'll be enjoying those fruits and veg anon ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary, thanks so much for the very kind comments. We were lucky to see the newly married couple just as we were walking by. Keep well. Diane

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    2. Hilary, thanks so much for the very kind comments. We were lucky to see the newly married couple just as we were walking by. Keep well. Diane

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  37. Such beautiful photos! I think you have become an expert at it!

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