La Rochelle cruises

La Rochelle stands at around the mid-point of France’s western coast. Known as the ‘White City’ due to its limestone buildings that catch the light, it’s a delightful discovery on selected cruises across to the continent. You’re close to the Cognac region here, and indeed the delightful town of the same name.

Centuries-old timbered and flower-decked stone houses promise a wonderful stroll, and a call to the Hennessy Distillery is a must; it will reveal the secrets of the distillation of white wines from the Charente region, and the story of an Irish army captain who established it in the mid 1700s.

La Rochelle’s Cultural Heritage

The town has been a harbour since the twelfth century, when it established itself as a centre for trade and fishing. Two hundred years later it had become one of France’s most prominent ports and it remained so for three centuries.

Its old harbour is guarded by two towers that also dominate many postcards here. Tour Saint-Nicolas stands on the east side and the imposing Tour de la Chaîne on the west, the latter named as it housed the huge protective chain which that was drawn across the water at night during the Middle Ages. A number of lighthouses speckle the coast here as another reminder of its maritime traditions.

Discover La Rochelle

The Vieux Port, La Rochelle’s old harbour, is a fabulous and atmospheric place to explore. Cafés offer a wonderful view across to the towers, the old boats and the picturesque buildings.

In the Old Town, the Renaissance Town Hall and the Cathedral Saint-Louis, with its lavish ceiling frescoes, are major landmarks amidst the attractive half-timbered houses and passageways covered by 17th-century arches.

An hour or so drive outside of La Rochelle lies the National Park of Marais Poitevin, a sprawling marshy wetland that’s known as the ‘Green Venice,’ whose waterways can be navigated by flat bottomed boat. You could also use your visit to explore the low-key chic of the Ile de Ré, a favourite getaway of well-to-do Parisians, connected to the mainland by a bridge, with its dunes, bicycles and green-shuttered houses.

Excursions

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

  • Essence Of Cognac

    This tour is a must for any cognac lovers. Discover the secrets of the Hennessy Distillery and the fascinating town of Cognac.

    Essence Of Cognac

    Cognac, the birthplace of the world famous brandy, which bears its name, is a peaceful, picturesque little town. The Cognac famous for centuries throughout the world is a distillation of white wines from the Charente region. A good cognac should taste of the very essence of fresh grapes - strong and heady.

    On arrival in Cognac a short walk will take you through the old streets of the historic centre, which boasts numerous 16th and 17th century buildings, including the House of the Lieutenancy located on the picturesque Rue Grande.

    After 12 years service with Louis XV’s, Captain Richard Hennessy retired and settled in Cognac. Attracted by the taste of the delicious elixir distilled here, he sent several casks to his relatives in Ireland and, in 1765, founded a trading company, which was an immediate success. Cross the river by boat to the world famous Cognac ‘Hennessy‘ Cellars and stores, where you’ll enjoy a guided visit.

    Before ending your tour of the Hennessy Distillery, you’ll be invited to participate in a tasting session.

    At the end of your visit, take time to browse in the gift shop which presents the full range of the Hennessy products, including bottles, decanters, presentation boxes and brand-based items.



    This excursion will operate by coach, boat and on foot. Guests are advised that there are uneven paths and steps to negotiate and the visit to the Distillery will be on foot. There will be around 2 hours of slow walking during this tour. Since October 2013 French decree no. 2011-1336 requires that providers of transport services, where the journey starts or ends in France, are required to provide passengers with the carbon footprint for such services. We are pleased to be able to communicate the carbon footprint for our French tours. These have been calculated for us by our local operators. Each carbon footprint assumes that there will be 40 passengers on a coach,so your carbon footprint may vary from that published according to actual passenger numbers. The carbon footprint for this excursion has been calculated as 5.28kgs CO2 per passenger.

    Tour code

    LAP_009

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    5½ hours

  • Ile De Ré

    A popular weekend getaway for the smart Parisian jet set, come and see what makes this romantic little island so special.

    Ile De Ré

    Renowned for the quality of living, food and sandy beaches, the ‘white island’ of Ile de Ré is rich in birdlife and has been classified as a ‘protected site’. Linked to the mainland by a 3-kilometre-long bridge, Ile de Ré stretches out across the ocean as far as the eye can see.

    Your tour begins with a panoramic drive through La Rochelle to introduce you to some of the main highlights, afterwards you’ll journey to the picturesque capital of Ile de Ré Saint Martin de Ré. Once an active port and military stronghold, Saint Martin has transformed into a charming tourist centre. The narrow, cobble-stone streets conjure up images of the Middle Ages and reflect an opulent heritage. Boutiques and restaurants line the pedestrianised streets. After a short walking tour with your guide, enjoy some free time to browse the shops or enjoy a drink at an open air café.

    The small village of Ars en Ré nestles in the salt marshes and is typical of the area, with its white houses and colourful shutters. A short stop here provides an excellent photo opportunity.



    This excursion is operated by coach. The 30 minute guided walk in St. Martin de Ré is optional, independent exploration may be done if you prefer. To reach the town centre a 5 minute walk from the car park is necessary. Guests are advised that some shops may be closed when visits are made early or late in the season. Since October 2013 French decree no. 2011-1336 requires that providers of transport services, where the journey starts or ends in France, are required to provide passengers with the carbon footprint for such services. We are pleased to be able to communicate the carbon footprint for our French tours. These have been calculated for us by our local operators. Each carbon footprint assumes that there will be 40 passengers on a coach,so your carbon footprint may vary from that published according to actual passenger numbers. The carbon footprint for this excursion has been calculated as 1.22 kgs CO2 per passenger.

    Tour code

    LAP_002

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    4½ hours

  • Green Venice

    This unique and unforgettable tour takes you through the waterways of ‘Green Venice’ or ‘Venice Verte’ by traditional boat.

    Green Venice

    Criss-crossed by waterways and highly picturesque, the area of Marais Poitevin offers a unique charm.

    The Poitevin Marshland is described as ‘Green Venice’; the best and ‘only’ way to discover this fascinating area is by taking a traditional, flat-bottomed boat through the canals and going deep into the marshes. Let your mind drift as you meander along the waterways and appreciate the nature of this protected area. The hour-long boat trip starts by the village of La Garette and ends at the pretty village of Coulon.

    The capital of this region is Coulon, the River Sevre Niortaise flows between the quays, which are lined with boatmen’s houses, shops, cafés and restaurants. You’ll have some free time here for independent exploration.



    This excursion will operate by coach, boat and on foot. Due to the popularity of this tour, pre-booking is recommended. This tour requires a degree of agility to embark the small boats. There is approximately 1 hour of walking in Coulon and a short walk to reach the boats. There will be no commentary during the boat trip. Travel time to Coulon is approximately 1 hour each way. In case of adverse conditions, this tour may be cancelled at short notice. Guests are recommended to bring a jacket as it can be cold at certain times of the year. Shops may be closed in the early or late season. Since October 2013 French decree no. 2011-1336 requires that providers of transport services, where the journey starts or ends in France, are required to provide passengers with the carbon footprint for such services. We are pleased to be able to communicate the carbon footprint for our French tours. These have been calculated for us by our local operators. Each carbon footprint assumes that there will be 40 passengers on a coach,so your carbon footprint may vary from that published according to actual passenger numbers. The carbon footprint for this excursion has been calculated as 3.10kgs CO2 per passenger.

    Tour code

    LAP_005

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Lovely La Rochelle

    What better way to discover the charms of this unique city than by a horse-drawn carriage.

    Lovely La Rochelle

    The old fortified port of La Rochelle features quaint hidden streets lined with arcades and ancient wooden houses. The Port des Minimes is renowned as the largest yachting port on Europe’s Atlantic coastline, accommodating up to 3,500 boats.

    The highlight of your tour will be a guided horse-drawn carriage ride around La Rochelle’s historic centre. See many of the city’s landmarks including the impressive Porte de La Grosse Horloge, former port gateway to the city, as well as the famous towers, ‘Tour de la Chaine’ and ‘Tour Saint Nicolas’. Your guide will point out the lovely arcades and fine buildings, such as the Italian-style Town Hall. You’ll also pass by parks and gardens, which all add to the pleasant atmosphere of the city.

    The final part of the tour will be a walk through the bustling Town Hall area. Your return journey will be by coach along the seafront, passing by the Jardins du Mail and the Casino, before arriving at the ship.



    This excursion will operate by coach and carriage and involves approximately 30 – 40 minutes’ walking. The duration of the carriage ride is around 1¼ hours and can be bumpy. Two carriages will be used, each accommodating up to 23 passengers. Each bench accommodates between 3 and 4 regular sized adults. Guests travelling in groups may not always be able to travel together. Please be advised that this tour does not include a comfort stop. Guests are recommended to bring a jacket as it can be cold at certain times of the year. There is limited availability on this tour, therefore booking early is recommended. Guests can choose to opt out of the guided walk in La Rochelle and have free time instead. There may be an option to remain in La Rochelle at the end of the tour (time permitting). Since October 2013 French decree no. 2011-1336 requires that providers of transport services, where the journey starts or ends in France, are required to provide passengers with the carbon footprint for such services. We are pleased to be able to communicate the carbon footprint for our French tours. These have been calculated for us by our local operators. Each carbon footprint assumes that there will be 40 passengers on a coach,so your carbon footprint may vary from that published according to actual passenger numbers. The carbon footprint for this excursion has been calculated as 0.29kgs CO2 per passenger.

    Tour code

    LAP_007

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    Duration

    3 hours

  • Saintes and Courbon Castle

    Visit the area’s best attractions, the beautiful ‘Sleeping Beauty’ style Courbon Castle and the atmospheric town of Saintes.

    Saintes and Courbon Castle

    The town of Saintes exudes charm and atmosphere. It’s a bustling market town, with a historic centre, so a visit here is almost like stepping back in time as you take in the narrow streets and old world architecture. After a visit to the majestic Cathedral of Saint Pierre, you’ll have free time to explore the town’s wide variety of cafés and shops, which offer souvenirs and specialities of the Charente’s Maritimes region.

    The second highlight of your tour will be La Roche Courbon, known as ‘Sleeping Beauty’s Castle’. The Castle, which was transformed into an elegant residence in the 17th century, is a popular venue for weddings due to its beautiful setting. The restoration of the formal French gardens spanned from 1928 to 1936 - and when you stroll through them, you’ll realise that the effort was certainly worth it. The castle itself was restored in 1920 and now features a series of beautifully furnished and decorated rooms. Don’t miss the drawing room’s painted wood panelling dating from 1162, the painted beams of the Louis XIII room and, of course, the traditional style kitchen.

    Stand on the terrace and admire the stunning view of the Château, reflected in the smooth surface of the ornamental lake.



    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot and involves approximately 1½ hours of walking. Passengers are advised that there are steps to be negotiated at La Roche Courbon Castle, as well as uneven paths in the gardens. Since October 2013 French decree no. 2011-1336 requires that providers of transport services, where the journey starts or ends in France, are required to provide passengers with the carbon footprint for such services. We are pleased to be able to communicate the carbon footprint for our French tours. These have been calculated for us by our local operators. Each carbon footprint assumes that there will be 40 passengers on a coach,so your carbon footprint may vary from that published according to actual passenger numbers. The carbon footprint for this excursion has been calculated as 3.79kgs CO2 per passenger.

    Tour code

    LAP_008

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    5½ hours

  • La Rochelle In a Nutshell

    Explore this old fortified port with your guide; admire the stylish arcades, ancient wooden houses and stately mansions.

    La Rochelle In a Nutshell

    Delve into the heart of La Rochelle’s Old Town as your walking tour takes you through atmospheric narrow streets, secret vaulted passages, arcades and porches. Your guide will introduce you to the highlights, including the impressive Porte de la Grosse Horloge, once the main gateway to the city.

    At the Old Harbour, you’ll have a picture-postcard view of the famous ‘Tour de la Chaine’ and ‘Tour Saint Nicolas’, which stand proudly at the entrance of the port. The ‘Tour de la Chaine’ owes its name to a huge, heavy chain, which used to be stretched across the harbour mouth, closing the port to ships.

    In the attractive city centre, you cannot fail to be charmed by the arcaded streets, old timber houses and elegant architecture. Marvel at the richly decorated Town Hall, the Hotel de la Bourse and the magnificent façade of the Law Courts with its fluted Corinthian columns and frieze of carved foliage.

    During your tour, you’ll have the opportunity to taste the traditional apéritif of the region, Pineau des Charentes.



    This tour involves approximately 1¾ hours walking over paved ground. The tasting will be arranged nearby La Rochelle Marketplace. The order of visits may vary. Since October 2013 French decree no. 2011-1336 requires that providers of transport services, where the journey starts or ends in France, are required to provide passengers with the carbon footprint for such services. We are pleased to be able to communicate the carbon footprint for our French tours. These have been calculated for us by our local operators. Each carbon footprint assumes that there will be 40 passengers on a coach,so your carbon footprint may vary from that published according to actual passenger numbers. The carbon footprint for this excursion has been calculated as 0.29kgs CO2 per passenger.

    Tour code

    LAP_001

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    3 hours