La Rochelle is located in Nouvelle-Aquitaine on the Atlantic coast, about a four hour drive southwest of us. Though rich in history and reputation, thanks to the Dick van Dyke Show, my enthusiasm did not match Tricia’s though I never said anything. Every time she would mention going there, reminding me of the city’s frequent mentions in the book “A Bite Size History of France,” which we had both read, the first image that came to my mind was Dick van Dyke who lived in New Rochelle on his old TV show.
Well, we went to La Rochelle and I am so glad we did. It is one of my favorite places in France, hard to make a list of better places, and of course one of the criteria for a great place is the food, La Rochelle has some of the best we have had.
The Pont de I’le de Ré takes you to I’le de Ré. It is 19 miles long and 3 miles wide, with a number of small communities. We ate lunch at La Marine in the village of Saint-Martin-de-Ré. We ate outside next to the harbour and of course had seafood. Tricia had hake, which she said was great, I stole a bite and do agree. I had Cocotte de la Mer, a seafood stew of mussels, shrimp, langoustines, and shellfish, in a cream sauce all baked with a puff pastry crust. (You get just a peek of Tricia’s hake in the distance.)
A wonderful meal for sure, the sauce was so rich and the seafood perfect.
The next day we ate near the old harbour in La Rochelle. We had heard that Andre’s restaurant was the best in the area, but we passed by it as a bit touristy. Just a few yards down the street we stopped in front of Le Bistrot d’la Chaîne, greeted by the delightful owner we took a table, and we are so glad we did. Other bistrots around us and the crêperie across from us had more people, but I know none of them, including the patrons at Andre’s, had a better experience than we did.
We both had one of the best meals ever, the kind that makes it difficult to recall any other meal that was ever more enjoyable. The service was perfect, she helped us with our French, we watched a parade of people walking by, and spent a pleasant couple of hours on a warm but not hot day.
After an entrée of raw oysters our mains came. Tricia had scallops, I had grilled shrimp and risotto.
Travel is about learning and of course food. Two lessons from this trip. First off don’t let old blurry mental images prevent you from visiting a place you really have no sharp image of. The second lesson, which I have mentioned before, is to not rely too much on guide books or other bloggers, yep that includes me, for your decisions. You might go to Andre’s and have the meal of your life, or you might go to d’la Chaîne and wonder why we raved. All I know is we loved La Rochelle, and really loved the two meals we had there – we are pretty sure we will return.
So keep trying new places and tastes, you will discover the wonder of the world along the way.
4 thoughts on “La Rochelle, Not New Rochelle”
We had some great meals and saw some lovely places too.
That is for sure.
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One the absolute best parts of travel is the food. 😋
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“So keep trying new places and tastes, you will discover the wonder of the world along the way.” Love that. So well said.