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Soaring stone towers and a historic port define this French Atlantic city. Click here for 48 Hours In La Rochelle map. The return of French holidaymakers, en masse, to the cities is under way, leaving more room for you in one of the most attractive ports along France's Atlantic coast. Catch the last of the summer's heat now, or aim to be there around 13 September for the annual free outdoor spectacle Voiles de Nuit — a night-time nautical "ballet" and firework display in the old port.
Ryanair ; www. EasyJet ; www. FlyBe ; www. The airport is 5km from the city centre. By rail, Eurostar ; www. Life revolves around the Vieux Port, at the entrance to which stands La Rochelle's distinctive stone towers.
The quaysides form a square around the harbour, and it's a bustling place full of bars, restaurants, and even a tiny park with a carousel. The main tourist office 3 is at 2 quai Georges Simenon, in Le Gabut on the southern side of the harbour 00 33 5 46 41 14 68; www.
It opens Monday-Saturday 9am-8pm, and Sundays 10am There you can buy a Pass' Rochelais, which saves on admission to 12 attractions and gives free city transport www. The interiors of this new design hotel are hi-tech and funky, yet comfort hasn't been sacrificed for style. Right on the quayside, in the old port, at 23 quai Valin, is Le Yachtman 6 00 33 5 46 41 20 68; www. Choose between three massive stone towers in the old port for sweeping views of the city and beyond.
Start at the taller of the two towers, Tour St-Nicolas 7 , on the eastern side of the harbour, and walk up the quay through the Porte de la Grosse Horloge 2 into the warren of pedestrianised streets. Soon you reach the flamboyant 17th-century town hall 10 , with its Gothic walls enclosing the courtyard, with its magnificent balustraded staircase. It takes place every morning until noon. On Saturdays and Wednesdays, the market takes over the square completely.