La Rochelle

Two Days in La Rochelle

La Rochelle is on the Atlantic coast of France, in the Bay of Biscay.  It’s been around since the 9th or 10th century and has always been an important trading port.

The objective of this part of the trip was to have a look around the town, cycle round the Ile de Ré, visit the famous WW2 German submarine pens and to do some cycling up and down the coast.

The harbour area of the town is very pretty, very French and very old. It’s also stuffed full of tourists and yachts – I’ve never seen so many – millions and millions of euros worth of boats.

We set off to cycle to the Ile de Ré, just off the coast.  I thought Neil meant cycle to the ferry to the Ile de Ré.  But  no.

It’s probably clear from the photo that I was traumatised from cycling over that sodding bridge in a gale.  The ride back wasn’t quite as grim, only because the wind was with us.   As compensation, I later had 2 boules of my new favourite thing in the whole world:  salted caramel ice cream.

Next day we cycled south but gave up after an hour as the wind was difficult and the countryside wasn’t very attractive.  Although La Rochelle itself is stunning, it’s surroundings are a bit industrial and generally unlovely.

Fought our way back to La Rochelle against the wind and headed to the Tourist Office to find out about visiting the submarine pens.  I was told:  ‘Zey er nut upin’.  ‘But why?’  ‘Zeh urmee steel yews erm’.   ‘Not open at all then?”  ‘Ner, nivair’.

Instead, we spent the rest of the day eating patisseries and salted caramel ice cream.

The next morning the weather had changed and we left La Rochelle to it’s grey Atlantic, the cold and the rain.  Glad to go – too much like Scotland 🙂

Next stop Orléans.

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Paris – the last day :(

This morning was quite sombre;  rain last night and grey, cloudy skies added to the end-of-a-great-holiday feeling. 

After breakfast, we wandered over for a look at the Place des Vosges just as Dominique Strauss Kahn arrived back from the USA, so it was a riot of television cameras and paparazzi. 

Came back to check out of the hotel and had a quick last coffee in Le Grizzli. 

We say au revoir (not adieu) to Le Grizzli

Headed off to the Gare de Lyon to meet Neil off the TGV from Geneva.  Decided to have a final lunch before going our separate ways – Margaret back home to Scotland, us to La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast.  

Le Train Bleu (the name of the train from Paris to the Cote d’Azur) is a famous restaurant situated above the platforms in the station.  It’s a wondrous piece of French, completely over the top, bonkersville Belle Epoque fabulousness.  We had a superb lunch of a warm smoked salmon terrine with fennel, cucumber & chives – Neil chose the pistachio sausage baked in a brioche. And of course we had a healthy amount of decent rosé wine.The recurring theme throughout our Paris break has been ‘things can’t get any better’.  But they started off brilliantly and just kept getting better  – and the Le Train Bleu lunch topped off the whole experience.A big thanks to Neil for indulging Margaret and me – he  bravely gave us the choice of Le Train Bleu or the rather grim brasserie downstairs when he knew the havoc that could be wreaked with his sporran.  Havoc was duly wreaked, but he bore it well.

Margaret and I had a fantastic time.  Paris had on it’s best dress for our stay – even the Parisians seemed a lot less surly and obnoxious – we had only 2 Franco-Scottish international incidents over 4 days which must be a record :).

Sad to say goodbye but will definately do something similar next year – already looking forward to it.