Charente-Maritime attractions

Top Choice Aquarium in La Rochelle

Aquarium La Rochelle

La Rochelle's state-of-the-art, family-friendly aquarium is home to 12,000 marine animals and 600 different species. Visits begin by descending in a clunky old 'submarine' to the ocean floor, where you're greeted by…
Top Choice Lighthouse in La Rochelle

Tour de la Lanterne

Easily mistaken for an ornate church spire, the conical 15th-century Tour de la Lanterne is La Rochelle's beauty queen. It was so named because of its role as the harbour's lighthouse (lit by an enormous candle) and…
Top Choice Museum in La Rochelle

Musée Maritime

In a series of boldly coloured, red, blue and yellow canopied hangars at the Bassin à Flot, the Maritime Museum evokes the history of La Rochelle port, from the present to the days when Parisians would arrive by tra…
Top Choice Lighthouse in Île de Ré

Phare des Baleines

For an overview of the island, follow the crowds to Phare des Baleines, the island's scarlet-tipped, 59m-tall lighthouse on its northwestern tip. Scale the dizzying, 257-step spiral staircase inside the 19th-century…
Tower in Île de Ré

Clocher Observatoire

A hike up the 117 steps inside the bell stone of fortified Église St-Martin rewards with a mighty fine panorama of St-Martin-de-Ré and the coast. The well-used wooden staircase twists up past the bell tower's trio o…
Nature Reserve in La Rochelle

Réserve Naturelle Marais d'Yves

An easy 15km drive south of La Rochelle, this nature reserve runs a free nature centre where you can peer through telescopes to watch some of the 192-hectare reserve's 250 bird species amid the wetlands. Depending o…
Monument in La Rochelle

Tour St-Nicolas

The only tower to be decked out like a house, this 37m-high pentagonal stone tower has leaned slightly to one side ever since building was complete in 1376. It was originally used for both defensive purposes and as …
Monument in La Rochelle

Tour de la Chaîne

To protect the harbour at night in times of war, an enormous chain was raised between the two 14th-century stone towers at the harbour entrance to La Rochelle, giving rise to the name Tour de la Chaîne (Chain Tower)…
Museum in La Rochelle

Musée du Nouveau Monde

La Rochelle's role as a departure point for North America is interpreted at this museum, housed in an elegant courtyard-clad mansion built in 1750.
Museum in La Rochelle

Musée des Automates et Modèles Réduits

This small museum displays 300 automated dolls from the last two centuries, including a near-life-size re-creation of bygone Montmartre in Paris, right down to the Moulin Rouge and the funicular railway. Trainspotte…