The coastal city of La Rochelle was established as a harbour in the 10th century and became an important centre for maritime commerce and trade for a number of centuries. From the 12th to 14th centuries the city changed hands between English Plantagenet rule and French rule while the Knights Templar also had a strong presence here. In 1372 the French recovered the city and until the 15th century La Rochelle prospered as the largest French harbour on the Atlantic coast, trading in wine, cheese and salt. Trade with the New World also began in earnest. La Rochelle played an active part during both the French Wars of Religion and the Huguenot rebellions. Then, with the loss of overseas territories after the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, the city lost its prominence. During the second world war the harbour became a German stronghold as a submarine naval base. Today visitors can view the well-preserved old town quarter, walk on the city walls or explore the gigantic second world war U-boat pens.
Set in the historic heart of La Rochelle overlooking the old harbour, the Hôtel de la...