Wednesday, December 23, 2020

France Trivia Advent Calendar day twenty-three, La Rochelle

French Village Diaries France Trivia Advent Calendar day twenty-three La Rochelle
Advent day 23 a Bordeaux red and a biere ambrée

Advent day twenty-three, Wednesday 23rd December 2020


Final preparations for Christmas

This morning we waved our Ed goodbye, in the rain, his little car stacked with gifts and freshly baked mincepies, off for his French family Christmas adventure. 


I had a day of baking planned, the first batch of mincepies were out of the oven, the pastry for the second batch resting in the fridge and the naan bread dough doing its thing in the bread machine. Then we decided to do something really bonkers.


We are not ones for shopping, even on the quiet days, but especially not two days before Christmas, and in the middle of a pandemic. What we would normally enjoy however, is a quick visit to La Rochelle in the run up to Christmas. I’d pick Adrian up from the early morning London flight and we’d treat ourselves to coffee and a croissant at the Café de la Paix, enjoying their decorations and huge tree, as well as the elaborately painted ceilings, everything reflected back at us in the large mirrors that line every wall. With no overseas work, there has been no travel and no airport runs. This year we’ve also missed out on a visit to a big town centre to enjoy the Christmas lights, market and festive atmosphere.

French Village Diaries France Trivia Advent Calendar day twenty-three La Rochelle
La Rochelle, December 2020


Making the most of the freedom of no lockdown and being child-free once more, we escaped for an afternoon in La Rochelle. We were too early to enjoy the Christmas lights and the Café de la Paix was sad, dark and closed, but masked-up we enjoyed our La Rochelle fix, a change of scenery and some bracing sea air. Having left home in the gloom and rain, we didn’t bother taking the bikes with us, which we regretted as the closer we got to the coast, the brighter and sunnier it got. Even without the café terraces, La Rochelle is always a treat for people watching, bike spotting and seeing another side of French life. 


The pre-Christmas chores we should have been doing can wait for another day and although I might have been a bit late to my yoga class this evening, at least we made it home before our eight o’clock curfew, but only just.


French Village Diaries France Trivia Advent Calendar day twenty-three La Rochelle
Winter sun in La Rochelle, December 2020

France Trivia advent calendar, day twenty-three, La Rochelle

There is lots I could share about La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast, and its colourful history, but for many secondary school pupils in the UK, at least in the 1980’s, it was the towers in La Rochelle that had pride of place on our Tricolore French textbooks. 


La Rochelle was English from 1152 to 1226 (we have Eleanor of Aquitaine to thank for that) and again from 1360 to 1372. From the fourteenth until the seventeenth century it was one of France’s principal ports, meaning it was from La Rochelle that many French adventurers set off for new lives in Canada, America and the Ivory Coast.


For me, it is the place to go when I need a little bit more than village life can offer. 

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