|The waterfront at La Rochelle|
Last weekend my wife, daughter and myself visited La Rochelle, on the West coast of France, with a sea port opening to the Bay of Biscay. We might move here. We're considering moving outside of Paris, but we've decided to stay in the country this time (Malta, Belgium, or the UK were our most likely destinations). The village is absolutely gorgeous and prices are much more reasonable than Paris. Since we've started a company that, amongst other things, does international IT recruitment, we find ourselves in the luxurious position of being able to move.
Those who haven't traveled much or haven't been to France may not understand me when I say La Rochelle is more French than Paris, but it's true. In fact, the more I move to different countries, the more I find that the soul of the countries is in the countryside, not the big cities. Nevertheless, would-be expats will flock to Paris rather than Guéret or Châteauroux, leaving the smaller towns alone.
|La Rochelle waterfront panorama.|
La Rochelle itself has an interesting history. It was the last city in France to be recaptured from the Nazis at the end of World War II and La Rochelle still has U-boat pens. For film buffs, large parts of Das Boot were filmed there.
|Fresh seafood at the La Rochelle market.|
|In front of a church in La Rochelle.|
That small road leads to delightful shops and restaurants.
Calais, due to its strategic importance as overlooking the narrowest point of the English Channel, has often been important from a military perspective. As a result, while port towns filled with tourists are often well off, Calais has repeatedly been overrun in wars. Today, the people are friendly and warm, but the city has been rebuilt and it lacks much of the old-world charm of much of France.
|My daughter and I playing ball near|
the waterfront in La Rochelle.
If you get to know the residents of Calais, also known as Calaisiens, you will find that some of them hate the British. This isn't he casual British/French rivalry: this borders on loathing. You see, many British people can't afford a vacation abroad, but what they can afford is a train to Dover, take a quick ferry to Calais, visit the town and return later in the evening (or if they really splurge, getting a hotel room for the night).
This seems fine, but what this means, in practice, is that you have a bunch of tourists who get rip roaring drunk, shout at the top of their lungs, vomit on the sidewalk (a popular British drinking past time I saw repeatedly while living in the UK), pick fights with the locals, and generally earn the ire of the French. They're worse than pigeons, I tell you.
|Parc Charruyer, La Rochelle.|
Now, of course, I feel stupid. La Rochelle is a popular tourist destination, but it's certainly not one that most people can choose for a day trip. This immediately cuts down on the drunken boisterousness of many tourists and the town is quiet and laid back.
Now I'll shut up and just leave you with a photo dump.
|Nighttime shot of one of their restaurants at night.|
|Lovely door. I wonder what's behind it?|
|La Rochelle from the air.|
|I just love this photo of my wife and daughter.|
|The harbor at La Rochelle.|
|Me and my daughter.|
|One of the old harbor towers.|
|At a surprisingly pleasant Vietnamese "bistro"|
at the La Rochelle market.
|Sadly, I never had a chance to visit "Le Troll Pub".|
|The old port in La Rochelle.|