La Rochelle is described in the guidebooks as the most unspoilt and attractive seaside town in France, and I can well believe it. The relatively compact centre which nestles around the old port has nothing to detract the eye, and everything to surprise and delight lovers of architecture, history, photography and of course France itself.

It oozes French character, from the twin castle towers that sit either side of the harbour entrance; to the twisty bustling streets mixing the local quirky slate-fronted Rochelais buidlings with the quintessentially french-shuttered storyed structures.

You could do no worse than wander the streets soaking up the atmosphere, watching the street entertainment, admiring the yaghts in the marina and pinging yourself between the key buildings of historical and arhitectural significance: the Palais de Justice, Hotel de Ville and Cathedrale.

The key challenge is knowing where to eat, there are almost too many restaurants to choose between and several, that seem to specialise in fairly sub-standard moules and frites, that have clearly sacrificed on quality. That said there are some altogether great foodie haunts ranging from relatively pricey Seafood specialists like Bistro Andre at the top end of the right side of the harbour; to ice cream parlours to die for.

My tip:
try to catch the indoor market on a Saturday morning (the Marche in the Vieux Port / central area). Then take a strong coffee in one of the surrounding Cafes and sit and watch the hustle and bustle. I dare say the market probably runs on other days, so best to check in advance.