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Europe 2017

Is This La Rochelle or the Mall?

FRANCE | Saturday, 12 August 2017 | Views [180]

Having spent a few months in La Rochelle over the years, we were looking forward to spending a day checking out all our old haunts. Quelle surprise!
First, it took us forever to actually enter the city because the traffic was so heavy. Then, finding a parking spot presented a challenge. (But, knowing the city really well helped a great deal.)
As we crossed to the 'Old City' we were struck by the crowds; there were hordes of people, pouring into the center of town. Both sides of the street were lined with vendors selling souvenirs, gifts-wares and take-away snacks. Even during the height of its tourist season when the famous Franco-Follies are held in early July every year, we have never seen it as crowded! And the crowds never seemed to thin out. There were narrow streets, in the center of town, where it was difficult to move.
The Tourist Office had been expanded and it too was jammed. You could hear at least five different languages at any given time. And the tourist board had even added
toilets! (This is rare and a big plus. Kudos to the powers that be.)
One thing that we had forgotten about, was the fire in the very historic City Hall in 2013. It burned for all most 24 hours before the firemen were able to put it out. Parts of the ancient structure had to be reinforced before it was safe and they could begin to reconstruct it. And many ancient tomes had to be carefully removed. With all the prework that had to be accomplished, the actual rebuilding/restoration did not begin until last year and it will take 3 years to complete.

From afar, the charm of the old towers and the "new", eighteenth century buildings can still be admired. But, La Rochelle is currently a city influx. The streets in many of the really old parts of town are completely torn up and they are being replaced.  Traffic patterns have had to change because of all the construction as well as for security reasons. So much is going on there-  the rebuilding of the Town Hall, maintenance on the old streets, cleaning of the towers, accommodating all the visitors - I really hope that they get it right because it was always one of our favorite places!

Towers of La Rochelle

Towers of La Rochelle


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