La Rochelle, France
We usually do the Dover Calais crossing but because of the trouble in Calais decided to take the Newhaven – Dieppe which, in fact, was better for the area we were heading to first – the west coast of France.
As we had booked a late crossing we stopped off on the aire in Dieppe once we docked so that we would have a full day driving the next day. It was a 24-hour aire where you take a ticket and pay on departure. The cost was 12 euros which weren’t bad considering that it was positioned on the river looking over to the town. It felt safe too. The next time we do this crossing we will stay a bit longer and look round the town because it looks quite nice.
The coordinates for the Dieppe Aire N49.93139 E1.08667
The first day we travelled 6 ½ hours down to La Rochelle on the West Coast of France and stayed at….
Campsite: Le Beaulieu N46 10’40” W1 6’55”
As we followed the signs to the campsite we did wonder where we were being directed as we were driving through a really big out of town retail area. We chose the site because of the location. The description in our book said that from here you could get a bus into La Rochelle or cycle in.
What surprised us was that once on our pitch, which was in the middle of the campsite, we could have been in the countryside because it was so quiet and peaceful. There was a lovely heated indoor and outdoor swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, also a nice bar and restaurant. As I mentioned just outside the site was the retail park which included a large Super U supermarket. As we needed a few food supplies we took a walk to the supermarket and looked around some of the shops at the same time.
Photos of Le Beaulieu campsite near La Rochelle
The following day we caught the bus, which runs every 20 minutes from outside the Super U. The journey into La Rochelle is approximately 20 minutes and was only 1.30 euros each. The bus stopped in La Rochelle at the big bus station which made it easier to find the return bus. We have been known in the past to get on the wrong bus or not know where to find the bus stop for the return journey so now we always make sure we find out when we get off the bus.
We did consider cycling into the town but as it was along a road (and I don’t do busy roads on my bike) we decided on the bus.
The last time we visited La Rochelle was years ago with the kids but couldn’t really remember much about it and probably didn’t see much of it with the kids as they were always wanting to get back to the beach or pool.
La Rochelle is really picturesque with its 3 medieval towers that stand guard over the old port. The views from the top of these towers must be fantastic and I am sure the rooms inside are probably fascinating.
We had to make do with just looking over the harbour at them on this trip because my arthritic knee wouldn’t be up to climbing the many steep, narrow twisted stone steps. I should imagine that getting down again would be even trickier. Hopefully next time I will be a bit fitter.
There are lots of bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from all around the edges of the pretty old harbour all with a great view of the impressive old towers and seafood featured heavily on the menu (which we love). We, however, found a lovely restaurant in one of the side streets.
It’s a great place to relax and watch the world go by. We found it interesting listening to all the different foreign languages being spoken.
The harbour is dotted with boats and yachts of all sizes and really exudes great charm and character. I was pleased I wore comfortable shoes because of the many cobbles.
There are an array of shops and boutiques in the opposite streets which are more independent retailers rather than the international chains which made it so much more interesting.
It was quite busy with lots of people strolling around and sitting outside the pavement cafes and restaurants but it wasn’t as crowded as it gets in the height of the summer. It was just nice.
The market was interesting and we spotted some vegetables on the stalls that looked a bit different and certainly displayed well. There were a few items we couldn’t identify.
The day we visited there was some music
La Rochelle also has an aquarium, natural history museum and right in the heart of the old city next to the market and built under what used to be a hotel is a Subterranean bunker. The German army had it built during WW2 to provide shelter to the Admiralty during Allied Forces air strikes.