Personal Travel Manager, Robin Woods, shares some insights into experiencing medieval France and leaving the Parisian bubble.
Paris is a top destination for most, if not all travellers from Australia. Unfortunately, many visitors to France miss out on some of the best sights as they remain blinded by the bright lights and cobble stoned streets of Paris. Thankfully a true French experience is within reach.
A breezy three-hour ride on the TGV (high speed train) from Paris, Montparnasse will bring you to France’s Atlantic coast and the charming town of La Rochelle. Complete with a maze of cobblestoned streets and three fortified towers including the oldest medieval lighthouse on the Atlantic coast, this must-see destination also boasts a multitude of boutiques, restaurants, cafes and churches. For the sailing enthusiasts La Rochelle is also home to one of the largest marinas on the Atlantic coast. There are even a few beaches where you can enjoy the ocean if the weather is warm enough!
It’s worth climbing to the top of one of the towers for a spectacular view over the Old Town and out to sea. One of the towers (The Lantern Tower) was converted into a prison in the 16th century and you can still see graffiti carved into the walls by some of the English sailors held there during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Make the time to sit in one of the cafés lining the Vieux Port (old harbour) in the late afternoon and rub shoulders with locals and tourists as they sip their ‘apéros’ (before dinner drinks). Be sure to sample some of the local seafood that this area of France is famous for. One of the most memorable restaurants is “Au Gout du Jour” (Taste of the Day) – a must see with amazing organic produce.
Most importantly, wander the streets, alleyways and seaside promenades and simply breathe in the fresh sea air!
Weather and time-permitting, take a boat cruise to nearby Fort Boyard, Ile de Ré (from where salted caramels originate), and Ile d’Aix.
La Rochelle is a popular seaside destination for the Parisian people and can become quite busy during the summer holidays. Visiting during Australia’s spring or autumn holidays is recommended to avoid the crowds.
Plan your trip today with your local, personal travel manager http://www.travelmanagers.com.au/ptm-search/