La Rochelle

A Tale of an ancient city and a 17 year old Exchange Student

La Rochelle

We arrived in La Rochelle, France around 2 and hungry. Inadvertently I parked in a “Police Area” the only lot with spaces, and across the street from a handsome restaurant. The patio, due to intermittent rain, was empty and the inside, crammed.

les-perot-quaisThe special of the day was “Rochelle Burger”. I requested well-done. It wasn’t. I told the waiter I had asked for “well-done” and he said it was. I cut the bloody meat…he apologized and said he would take care of it immediately…and brought me  another entire meal exactly the same. The French fries and salad were excellent.

While I had coffee on the patio, watching for a policeman to approach our car, Mike walked the narrow, one-way streets to find our Hotel De France and it was nearby WITH underground parking! Excellent for such a very walkable city. A lovely hotel and a lovely room.

La Residence De France2We met up with Kate Van Dessel, our  lovely Belgium exchange-student from 24 years ago. La Rochelle was on our way home and an  hour’s flying time for Kate.

We had a glass of wine beside the fire-place in the lounge and planned our stay. This is an old city, 11th century, and beautifully maintained. One of France’s major ports became the biggest yachting center on France’s Atlantic coast. (See picture below)

Kate was 17 when she arrived to spend her “senior” year at our  local high school. Our daughter was a junior and we felt the cultural exchange would be good for her. We had no idea of how it would impact us. Living with her for a year, eventually meeting her family, future husband and learning about Belgium  changed our lives. We began to travel.

La Rochelle4

That evening we walked the cobbled streets to the Portside for dinner. Our Concierge recommended Chez Andre for their Lotte, also called Monkfish, and Sea Devil, served with risotto. Excellent…as was the wine Mike paired with it. After, we had coffee outside overlooking the harbor.

La Rochelle1

Kate brought us up to date on her family and on her travels as an executive VP for D.H.L International. We related episodes from our recent trip to Israel.

People nearby were talking about a “Special Event” happening here tomorrow between the 2 massive harbor towers.  Later our concierge  filled us in on the “Extreme Event” of the “Red Bull Cliff Dive” set for 6pm the next day. “A must see” he said.  And we would.

To be continued in 3 days…

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About carolinebotwin

Caroline Botwin and her husband Mike are retired educators who have always had a yen for travelling: he with a PH.D and teaching Architectural Engineering plus California wine education, and she having taught high school English, speech and drama. Both wanted to learn first hand about other cultures. While Mike predominately studied buildings and structures and met with winemakers, Caroline hunted for ancient sites and peoples. And kept journals of all their travels. Kevin Klimczak, extraordinaire, is the website designer and editor of the blogs.
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