Love letter to La Rochelle

Oh La Rochelle, you’re a sophisticated, dynamic, artsy, eco city. Packed full of tourists, students, sailors and street entertainers.

We passed under the bridge, wondering if our mast would fit & trying to remember the actual height of it. Then radioed for the 14.45 bridge lift to Bassin des Chalutiers. In typical French fashion there were boats turning circles and waiting for the lift. We formed an orderly queue and waited, watching the clock ticking down.

And waited

And waited

Finally at five to three the gates rose and we were greeted by the marina crew just wanting to say welcome to La Rochelle and to find a spot and they’d come over with the paperwork for us. As the lock gates closed behind us we thought back to lovely Sutton Marina, in Plymouth and began to relax. As we sat in the boat having a glass of wine and some nibbles, watching the world go by and the bistro customers eyeing us on the boat, we thought ‘well this is nice’.

And so far, nice it is … the aquarium is themed all the way through, with English translations & a lift that takes you to the bottom of the sea on your way in. We spent hours in there looking at jelly fish, turtles, sharks & coloured fish galore.

The cafe bars around the harbour are lovely, Trev spent many an hr people watching and drinking coffee. There are lots of markets around the city, so local food produce, artwork and street entertainers can be found. There are singing pirates, dance troupes, bongo lessons and the obligatory living statues.

So far the French transport has been brilliant, from free bikes to free buses, or buses that cost next to nothing, trains that run bang on time and have comfy seats there’s a lot to recommend. La Rochelle has an eco thing going on, so there are lots of alternative ways to travel, from a boris bike thing (free for the 1st 2 hrs & โ‚ฌ1.30 per hr after) to electric cars to hire, fully solar or hydrogen powered boats that act as water taxis, electric buses that speed around the city. We’ve been hugely impressed with it all and have taken advantage where we can.

Belle de Gabut is an area which I’m best describing in Trev’s words ‘a mini festival site’ there are bars, street food, street artists touching up or creating new graffiti, performances every night, from rap to middle aged folk singers. We were going to try the quiz night, but thought better of it as our French wouldn’t stand up to the test๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€

We were almost sorry to leave it early on Monday morning for Bilbao. In fact, we turned around and came back after the swell was lots bigger than predicted and I ‘decorated’ the boat several times ๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคฎ๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคฎ

I’ll be honest I was pretty gutted at the entire scenario, but once you are seasick it doesn’t really go away and with another 30 hrs to go, it would’ve been Trev doing all of the sailing, so wasn’t at all fair on him and could’ve put us in danger. It was the right decision for us, but horrible as we’d really wanted to get to Spain for Trev’s Birthday.

So we’re back, in a different marina, spreading the cash around La Rochelle, drinking Leffe at the Leffe bar, celebrating birthdays, bike riding to the Ile de Re and waiting for the swell to calm down so we can make the crossing. So far it’s either big swell & too much wind (currently it’s blowing over 20kts here and gusting at nearer to 30!). Or the swell looks great but we have too little wind so would have to motor a lot of the 195 miles. So, ho hum we’re thinking it might be Sunday or Monday, or Tuesday …

The first of the La Rochelle videos is here if you fancy a look at the city, there’s another one we’ve made which will be in the next Captains blog.

Speak soon x

11 Replies to “Love letter to La Rochelle”

  1. Turning back wasnโ€™t that big a problem…….Leffe is a much better option than Estrella ๐Ÿ˜Ž Hope Trev had a good birthday. Happy Sailing x


    1. Thanks Tim, it was definitely the right thing to do, but I feel bad for being the one that forced the decision. I think weโ€™re on our way tomorrow or early next week now. Gemma looks like sheโ€™s making huge progress ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป When are you guys coming for a visit?


  2. At present we have a window of opportunity February half term. Gem breaks up Friday 15th Feb for a week…….would be happy to travel to you ๐Ÿ‘


  3. I have just been told that we are going to Vegas in February half term ๐Ÿ™ˆ so now….Easter holiday we have nothing booked………shame, I love Portugal ๐Ÿ‘Œ


  4. Will do…I have told Gemma……with a stern voice, that Easter is my choice of destination. Alternatively, I can always get away without Gem for a long weekend…….Iโ€™ll keep an eye on your locations ๐Ÿ‘

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like you are having fun. Leffe bar you say ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿบ ๐Ÿ›ฉhope you had a good Birthday and the seas calm down for your crossing to Espania๐Ÿ™ Get well soon Sarah or just sleep for 30hrs Trev Will be fine stick it on auto ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ‘

    Liked by 1 person

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