France – La Rochelle
Our trip takes us to France in August 2001. This time we choose the route via Belgium and drive along the coast via Dunkerque, Calais, Abbeville and Dieppe. Following the coastline, we pass Le Havre, Honfleur and Deauville. The rest of the way takes us via Caen, Rennes, Nantes to La Rochelle. We spend two days in Bordeaux. Then we pay a short visit to Bilbao and then drive back north via Tours and Orleans to Germany.
Honfleur is a small port town that we can reach from Le Havre over the bridge stretched far across the Seine estuary. The town has a lot of flair and is correspondingly heavily frequented, at least in the summer months.
Tourists and artists are romping around here, which unite to form a colorful mixture of peoples. The small sports and fishing port is one of the main attractions of the city. A large number of restaurants have been established that mainly offer fish dishes. A visit is extremely worthwhile, especially since all fish dishes are freshly prepared and very tasty. Honfleur has a small shopping area, where not only the French shop and stroll.
The shops, which are mainly furnished in the typical style of the country, have everything from everyday necessities to luxury items ala Cartier etc. We stay away from Honfleuer for a while, since all hotels in the city are fully booked in August. The next day we travel south and book a stay in La Rochelle for two days.
The city has a historical medieval history. This can be felt up close at almost all points in the town. We can only recommend visiting the place outside of peak travel times. Half of France appears to be storming the city in July and August.
The port of La Rochelle is extremely charming and is visited by many yachts and sailing ships. It borders directly on the old town and can be reached in a few minutes on foot. There is a lighthouse directly at the harbor, which shows the ships the right way into the harbor basin. The port used to be the meeting point for all trading activities. This has changed somewhat today. But you can still guess the breath of history in this place.
The narrow harbor entrance is flanked by a medieval fortress with two watchtowers opposite each other. In earlier times, strong iron chains were stretched between the two towers to control the incoming ships. The reinforced towers are part of an extensive city wall that is still very well preserved today. The old town is ramified and loosened up by small shops and many restaurants.
In the evening there are smaller events with jugglers and artists on the streets. If it weren’t for the many visitors dressed too touristy, one could feel transported back to the Middle Ages with the necessary imagination. Well, if we just close our eyes, the feeling might come up.
In the old town near the entrance to the harbor, we have an extensive dinner in a fish restaurant. In wonderfully warm summer weather, we enjoy the starry night with several courses of different fish specialties and French red wine. During the subsequent walk to the hotel, we decide to continue the next day. The farewell is a little difficult for us despite everything. We have made it our plan to come back again outside of the high season.