As more people know by now, I love France and its wine. Well love may be too weak of a word, Obsessed? Adore? all apply. A friend once asked me why did I keep going back to France, as there are so many other places to see (she is right and I plan to see them) but my answer? There are so many places in France I haven’t seen. Which is true. Many people pick Paris, The Cote d’Azur or Bordeaux off and then are done with France. And there is so much more to see.
So back in 2014 on a visit to France, I decided I needed to see new parts of France. So we decided to see Paris (again), La Rochelle, Langedoc, And Burgundy (I know, I know but I added Bourg en Bresse so that was new) I can’t remember exactly why I picked La Rochelle except it was on the Bay of Biscay and close to Cognac for @Benton8tor.
So setting out from Paris, @benton8tor agreed to drive through France. I told him it was a 2 and a half hour drive. Sure it is closer to 4.5 hours but…Side note: Being slightly less truthful the time it take from point A to B is not advised. The driver can get a bit cranky that you sleep while they drive for hours. Arriving in La Rochelle, we immediately headed for the marina. The marina is beautiful as is the old city with its arches and interesting shops.I was excited for La Rochelle as I love seafood and it is plentiful! I have often visited seaside towns only to be disappointed by the options available. Not so in La Rochelle where my only regret is that I didn’t eat more. Our first night we spent around the marina where there are restaurants galore. This can be tricky as many of them cater to tourists so you will need to watch for quality. We picked one which promised the freshest and best seafood. They didn’t lie.Our dishes were amazing. Well most of our dishes. @Benton8tor loves salt and often seasons his dishes before tasting as he assumes they haven’t added salt. On this occasion he did just that. as he starts to eat he tells me ‘ its good but a little sweet, I need to add more salt’ Which he does, and continues to eat it and complain about the sweetness. Finally after the third time he tries the salt shaker. Sugar not salt. The server was mortified, Ben was gracious and I just laughed and laughed, felt guilty and then laughed again. he had better luck our final night when we wandered away from the marina past the museum and found a wonderful little restaurant with lovely wines from Bordeaux and the nearby Loire valley and even more fabulous amuse bouches.
But there is more than just seafood in La Rochelle. It borders the cognac region to the southwest and Rochfort is a few minutes drive to the south. In La Rochelle Pineau is widely available. Pineau is an aperitif made with cognac and has a variety of flavours and is the aperitif of the Charentes Maritime region (LA Rochelle is the capital). I strongly suggest trying as many as you can! The flavour range from fruit flavours to sea salt and caramel. And if you are this close to Cognac, take a day trip. Only an hour away, Cognac is worth a visit and as I mentioned before Remy Martin gives one of the best tours available. http://www.remymartin.com/agegate/?u=/
We stopped at Remy Martin. Prior to that visit, @benton8tor was a Courvoisier cognac drinker. He says drinker, I said snob but you know potato/ potato. Afterwards he had a new appreciation/love for Remy Martin. Not only were the cognacs impressive, anyone working at Remy Martin from the chef, to the cashier to the tour guide has a love, understanding and passion for the cognac and the process of making the cognac. Some of the cognac was hundred of years old. Those cognac makers knew they would never get to taste the finished product that is now worth thousands on the market. Unfortunately that cognac is not included in the tasting but we tried!
Hennessy is also worth a visit.Not quite as luxurious a tour as Remy Martin it is still informative with great tastings. https://www.hennessy.com Cognac the town is easily walk able and quite beautiful. I had the best croque mousiuer sandwich in Cognac.
Back in La Rochelle, it is also worth noting that its situation on the Bay of Biscay makes for a fascinating boat tour. We booked a day trip to ile d’Aix Island. That is a blog for another time but I would say definitely take the tour. http://www.inter-iles.com/
La Rochelle also stood out for its service, beauty and food. If you are in the area or even if you are not, it is worth the trip.