Tuesday, August 19, 2014

La Rochelle Budget Escape - Prada Places on a Primark Purse!

This week we’ll keep it short & sweet just like our relaxing weekend break to La Rochelle sans children!

La Rochelle is a historic port town in the west of France. It’s main attraction is a large seaport on the Bay of Biscay. From Dublin it’s a short flight time of just less than 2 hours. We went in April when the weather was starting to heat up and enjoyed average temperatures of 15 degrees.

La Rochelle is the perfect place to while away the hours people watching or just strolling along the town walls taking in the history & culture of the city. The Ryanair flights cost us €150 for both of us return.

Le Champlain – La Rochelle

I booked us a room at an old converted mansion in the heart of the city. We had everything within walking distance so no need to spend a fortune on taxis. Le Champlain is actually a Best Western hotel but you would never guess it’s part of a chain.

The rooms are ornate & are kept in the style of an old French mansion. The decor was simply beautiful & priced at an average of €95 per room per night B&B it was well worth it.

Breakfast was a wonderful spread of a perfect continental feast. We even took our coffee in the garden out the back of the chateau after breakfast to relax in the morning sunshine while reading the papers. After all that’s what people do while on holiday without children....isn’t it?!

Port towers at the old port La Rochelle

One of the best tourist attractions of the Le Vieux Port area are the three port towers dating from the 14th & 15th centuries. People just go there to hang out & sun bathe on the harbour walls taking in the stunning scenery of the bay area.

The towers are open to visit & you can climb them for €6 per tower or €8 for all three. My budget friendly tip is if you go the first Sunday of each month from November to March they are free of charge!

On board the Maritime museum, Ahoy there!

While we were strolling around the old port we came across an old fishing ship & tug boat which are permanently docked at the harbour & they make up the La Rochelle Maritime museum.

You can take a guided tour or opt for a self guided tour as we did at €8 per person. My husband Colin loved it as you get to explore everywhere from the engine rooms all the way up to the bridge.

After all that exploring we made our way topside just in time to see one of the many luxury yachts leaving the harbour. On the Maritime museum ship there is a bar on the main deck serving lunch & more importantly wine & beer! 

So we sat & relaxed over a few sociable drinks. We waited & got a wonderful view of the sunset as the bar stays open till 10pm.

Old Town La Rochelle
We took a wander through the old town which is full of 17th & 18th century buildings converted into boutique shops selling everything from high fashion to truly delicious pastries.

We then made our way back to Le Vieux Port to have a late lunch/early dinner or as we like to call it linner in one of the many superb seafood restaurants that line the streets surrounding the port. The price wasn’t that bad at all with our dinner including wine coming in at €55. 

Another watch tower at the old port.

You can walk from the old port to the modern harbour of Port des Minimes and take in the wonderful views along the way.  If you don’t feel like walking you can get a small “bus de mer” which is a little boat that you take down the coast at a very reasonable €2 per person.

There are tons more things to see & do in La Rochelle but we simply wanted to relax & recharge our batteries so we kept the touristy thing to a minimum. 

For that reason it’s firmly on our “return to” list of destinations. There is a tourist office located at 2 Quai Georges Simenon, Le Gabut. You can go there & pick up an English language guide that includes a 3 hour self guided walk of La Rochelle.

Tell us, have you been to this little slice of French heaven? What do you recommend to see & do while there? 

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