There’s more than one reason to take the train to La Rochelle. ‘The White City’ on France’s Atlantic coast combines an illustrious maritime history with the buzz of a seaport and the beauty of a well-preserved Old Town. Paris Montparnasse to La Rochelle is 3h15mins by train via high-speed TGV services. The fast Intercités network connects Bordeaux to La Rochelle in 2h09mins, or the journey time from Nantes is 2h35mins. Getting the train to La Rochelle has never been easier, putting the fortified town’s medieval buildings, arcades and attractions all within easy reach.
Travellers taking the train to La Rochelle are welcomed by an elegant building — the city’s train station was built in the 20th century and has a 45-metre-tall clock tower. From here, it’s just over a 5-minute walk to La Rochelle’s aquarium. A further 5-minute stroll leads to the Vieux Port, the well-preserved and beautiful marina, which is the largest on the Atlantic coast! This district is responsible for giving La Rochelle the reputation of being one of the most attractive and unspoilt seaside towns in France.
It’s an idyllic place to wander around, with plenty of opportunities to sample fresh seafood, especially in the pretty, terraced restaurants around Quai du Carénage. Food in the area around La Rochelle is best known for its use of fresh, homegrown produce. From fish caught straight out the Atlantic to fruit and vegetables picked from nearby farms, you can taste the freshness and wholesome flavours in every dish.
Here, the city’s imposing and iconic towers date back to times when control was contested by the English. Turning inland and passing through Porte de la Grosse Horloge — the old city gate with a Gothic clock tower — the 17th-century and 18th-century streets of the Old Town unravel. These streets are now a shopper’s haven! In particular, Rue du Palais, which leads to La Rochelle’s cathedral. A few minutes from the cathedral, the city’s Musée des Beaux-Arts showcases a collection of art within an impressive Neoclassical building, with the neighbouring Musée du Nouveau Monde documenting the city’s role as a departure point for America. La Rochelle also has plenty of green spaces to enjoy. The long and wide Parc Charruyer runs up from the quayside and offers a pleasant labyrinth of wooded paths, grassy spaces and also an animal park that children will adore.