Saturday, February 3, 2018

La Rochelle, France Is Awesome... and then some

From Paris, we drove five hours to the west coast of France and the town of La Rochelle.  After having been landlocked for a couple weeks, we were excited to see the ocean and play on the beach.

La Rochelle did not disappoint.  This small town was settled in the 900s first by the gauls and then the Romans.  It became a major port in the 1100s and remained the largest harbour in France/England (as it was one country back then) until the 1500s mostly trading wine, salt and cheese.

Our first night in La Rochelle, we were able to have dinner with a friend who we (via Kala) met in Antigua last year, on a beach with his dog, Fanny.  Emmanuel and his family spoke very little English and Baxter and I speak only broken french but we talked and had dinner and communicated despite our cultural and linguistic differences.  We have been able to stay in touch and were excited to see him in La Rochelle and catch up on the happenings since we left each other in The Saintes in January 2017.  Sometimes you meet friends while sailing and you're not sure if it will be the last time you will ever see them again or if it is a friendship that will continue to work its way into your life throughout the years.

With the maritime history in La Rochelle, it's no surprise that there are some pretty cool boats in town.  One of the most famous is "Joshua", belonging to Bernard Moitessier and he sailed her in the Golden Globe Race of 1968/69.  If you don't know the story, we recommend the book "Voyage For Mad Men" and there is also a movie coming out with Colin Firth called "The Mercy" (Feb 2018) which highlights the story.  Joshua was tucked in for the winter at the maritime museum which was also closed but it was cool to see the long bow sprit and the steel masts and the spirit the boat exudes.

So - that was the first day in La Rochelle.  We needed more time.  We soon called and extended our apartment for an extra four days.  We used the extended time wisely, taking day trips to Les Sables D'Olonne (home of the Vendée Globe yacht race) and Île de Ré.   We took Kala running on beaches and through parks.  She patiently waited for us while we explored 12th century towers and ordered croissants from patisseries.  Once again, we were lucky enough that most shops and restaurants allowed her to visit.  We found a daily routine that is sometimes the hardest part of being away from home.
Downtown La Rochelle
Awesome driftwood sculpture on a typical street in La Rochelle
Morning run through parks
Happy girl
Our apt was right above the red sign on the right
Morning run in the city (next to one of my favorite stores)

Looking west towards the towers
Kala waiting patiently while we do a quick tour

Saint Nicolas Tower
Up the tower
Checking out the view
Don't lean over too far
Spiral staircases are never boring
Are you done yet?

Cool boat at the Maritime Museum
The 411 on a boat named "Kala"

Bernard Moitesier's "Joshua" - steel ketch that was one of the first boats to solo circumnavigate (c. 1969).
Different view of a couple buoys - we usually only see the tops
Hotel De Ville - Under renovation while we were there
"De Generation en Generation" (From generation to generation) bronze sculpture.  It is about the transfer of generations is like telling stories from a book (notice the book emerging from the wall).  If one is not transferred to the next, it is lost forever with no recourse.
Over 5,000 boats at Les Minimes marina
French cafe for petit déjeuner (breakfast)
Je suis le chien a la cafe (I am the doggie at the cafe)
Please sir, may I have a croissant et un pain de chocolat?

le dessert
Heading into Les Sables D'Olonne
The entrance into Les Sables D'Olonne

A rainy, windy day in Les Sables

Rough seas beyond the jetty in Les Sables
Running on beaches in Ile de Re
Phare de Baleine (Whale Lighthouse) on Ile de Re

Running on beaches is hard work
A bit chilly but fun nonetheless
This is what happens when doggies run on sandy beaches

No comments:

Post a Comment