Saintes to La Rochelle

Trip Start Apr 10, 2012
Trip End Jul 13, 2012

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Flag of France  , Poitou-Charentes,
Monday, June 4, 2012

Our destination today was La Rochelle. Which road to take, we hadn't decided. So in this way our first stop was Saintes. We parked right by the Charentes River and were soon by the Cathedrale St Pierre. What a strange looking building. It has a very fat, heavy looking tower, and then at the side some flying buttresses not connected to anything. 
But all can be explained. It was built in the 12C, and was being rebuilt over more than a hundred years from 1450, when the Protestants attacked it and caused such serious damage that building has never been completed. So the tower is missing its spire, there fore the heavy look. 

Only a number of streets over is another massive church, the St Eutrope basilica.  Here is a refuge for pilgrims on their walk. And not far from this, the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre. So a number of historical buildings, but we liked the way another historical building site (by the belvedere with flowers) is being redeveloped into a modern useful area, but with the old building utilised. Should look very good. 
So walk for the day done, we went on to Brouage. You need your sunglasses on here, as the walls and roads are a very reflective light stone. Hardly a plant anywhere to soften the glare. All around the town are ramparts with unusual looking little guard boxes at the corners.

This town has a history in salt trading. It was once very wealthy, with thousands of people employed in the salt industry. But like many towns, trade decreased over time for a number of reasons, and now tourism is the main industry, not just for the town, but also for the surrounding salt marshes. 
Last stop for the day was La Rochelle. And as we headed into town I realised our walking for the day was not over.

 As we have travelled over weeks we sometimes talk about one town or other, trying to remember details. It goes something like this -'You know that town that the xxx and we did yyy??' And sometimes neither of us can think of the name until we look it up (blog comes in useful). Well, when we move on, I think I will remember la Rochelle because of the towers. La Rochelle has long been a port city, and towers were built to defend the city and the harbour.
Tour de la Chaine is so called because the townspeople used to hang a huge chain between it and the Tour St Nicholas to keep out intruders. The Tour de la Lanterne is unusual in that it is steeple topped, and built in memory of soldiers who were executed.

It is an attractive town, and must be enormously busy at times as there are hundreds of restaurants. How on earth they make a living I don't know. Today there were few people eating as the day had become rainy and cool. Huge dark clouds lined the horizon. It looked good, but it was not that pleasant, so we took the bus back to our stop for the night.

This was at the 'Park and Ride' for  la Rochelle. Some towns offer camping cars to stay at these places. No facilities (but ok as we have those on board) but for 10 Euros we can stay here 24 hours and get a return ticket on the bus to the centre of town. Not bad for us this day, as it was 5pm by the time we got back, and we left again in the morning.  Plenty of rain this night, so maybe the weather is changing??

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