La Rochelle, France

Today I arrived in La Rochelle. Le Vieux Port: the old port area of La Rochelle is dominated by three 14th and 15th century towers that stand tall at the entrance and is one of the town’s best tourist attractions. The oldest is la Tour de la Chaine, so called because a huge chain was slung from it across to Tour St-Nicolas on the other side. Just over 400 years ago the first settlers to Quebec left from La Rochelle and Tour de la Chaine now houses a permanent exhibition celebrating this. It’s open daily. Perhaps most interesting is Tour de la Lanterne that was originally built as a beacon for shops but subsequently became a prison for pirates, enemy seamen including the British, then Huguenots and finally clergy during the revolution. The only surviving medieval lighthouse on the Atlantic coast, you can still see graffiti inscribed on the walls by captured English seamen.

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