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Flight and hotel La Rochelle

A weekend in La Rochelle - 'The White City'

Known as 'the White City' due to its bright limestone facades, La Rochelle was once one of France's most famous port cities. A coastal city in western France, La Rochelle is located in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and has a heritage steeped in seafaring adventures. Though a modern city with a vibrant atmosphere, La Rochelle has maintained traces of its history through its architecture, including lighthouses and timbered houses around its historic harbour.

Things to know before planning city breaks in La Rochelle

The one-hour time difference between the UK and France makes package holidays in La Rochelle very convenient. Passengers travelling from London or Manchester will likely arrive at Île de Ré Airport (LRH) for their weekend in La Rochelle. Though most larger restaurants and shops will accept credit and debit cards, you may want to have some euros handy, particularly for taking advantage of some of the city's pleasant markets and boutiques. Brush up on your basic French before you book your flight to and hotel in La Rochelle – an effort to greet locals in their language is always appreciated.

When is the best time of year for package holidays in La Rochelle?

To experience the White City at its best, plan your weekend in La Rochelle between April and October. Keep in mind that many French businesses close in August for their summer holiday. The month's hot temperatures mean great fun at the local beaches, splashing around and cooling off.

How to spend a weekend in La Rochelle

La Rochelle was once one of France's most significant coastal cities, and the careful conservation of its historic city centre has left much of this history available for visitors to discover today. Le Vieux Port, which is traffic-free, is ideal for taking a long walk, perhaps with an ice cream in hand. The nearby Île de Ré is the outdoor jewel of city breaks in La Rochelle, offering hiking, golfing and sandy beaches. There are many fine museums and art galleries in the city, as well as one of France's best aquariums.

Highlights of city breaks in La Rochelle

In a city where you'll never struggle to find something to do, here are a few highlights:

  • Visit the Towers of La Rochelle: When exploring Le Vieux Port, you won't miss these large towers overlooking the Atlantic. They are what remains of the city's 12th-century fortifications. A visit to the Tour de la Lanterne also allows you to view graffiti carved into the rock by the tower's prisoners across the centuries.
  • Explore Île de Ré: This island, adjacent to the city, is popular with both domestic and international visitors. The island is great fun to explore by bike – set off on one of its many cycle trails. Enjoy sand dunes and beautiful beaches in the summer months and discover charming villages along its coast.
  • Aquarium La Rochelle: La Rochelle's most important resource has always been its coast. Its beautiful aquarium is home to a diverse collection of sea life, with interactive exhibitions and information available in both French and English.

What should you eat and drink during La Rochelle package holidays?

As in all parts of France, there are specific dishes and libations you must try in La Rochelle:

  • Mouclade charentaise: La Rochelle is known for its fresh seafood. This dish of local mussels, cooked with shallots, herbs and Pineau des Charentes (a fortified wine and cognac blend), appears frequently on menus in the city.
  • Fleur de sel: The area around La Rochelle and Île de Ré is known for its sea salt. Throughout the city, you'll find products and menus boasting fleur de sel. One of the city's most original treats is salty and sweet fleur de sel ice cream!
  • Île de Ré cognac: When in La Rochelle, you must try Camus's famous cognac. This rich, after-dinner drink is the perfect way to end a meal and will certainly have you booking another flight to and hotel in La Rochelle.

Products to remember your time in La Rochelle

Bring home a container of fleur de sel to savour the memories of your time in La Rochelle. Sea salt can be purchased at one of the city's many outdoor markets, including the Central Market, which is open every morning of the year. Camus cognac, distilled on Île de Ré, makes for an elegant gift for friends or even for yourself. The famous distillery is the largest cognac operation in France to remain family owned.