Monday 1st August We had to drag ourselves away from Lorient, although we are not city people we both thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, it does not have the city feel, more like a seaside town. Our next stop was to be the island of Belle Ile a short distance away (26 miles). There was not much wind so we had to result to the iron sail again but it was a beautiful day and with the autohelm on it was most pleasurable. When we arrived we found the harbour very small with a number of boats already moored inside, so we decided to anchor just outside and use the tender. On going ashore we found it not dissimilar to Millport on a warm sunny day. Life was centred round the town of La Palais and the bicycle was the main mode of transport. We would have liked to stay longer but were in a bit of a hurry to get to La Rochelle. Next morning we upped anchor and set off for Pornichet 36 miles to the south. The weather has remained good with wall to wall sunshine and temperatures in the high 70?s since we arrived at Lorient. The sailing is easy with the autohelm doing most of the work so I decided it was time to do a little fishing. Unfortunately I'm out of practice or the fish just weren't biting, the days catch amounted to two mackerel. We grilled them and had them as a starter with dinner, and yes they did taste good. On arrival in Pornichet we were surprised to find it a total contrast to everywhere we had visited so far, we found ourselves back in Yuppie Land. The coastline was a continuous string of high rise apartments with absolutely no architecture and the marina had more motorboats than yachts, this could be the Mediterranean. One night was enough at Pornichet, just not our scene. Pornichet to La Rochelle is 110 miles, so we decided to break the journey by anchoring in the bay at St Gilles-Croix-De-Vie overnight (46 miles). It turned out to be a bit rolly polly with a swell from the Northwest entering the bay, but we managed a night's sleep and set off again next morning. The weather pattern has remained constant for at least the last week (something we're not used to being from Scotland), hot sunny days with a light wind from the Northwest in the morning increasing after mid-day to about a force 5 by 6 o'clock and then dying away after midnight. This makes for grand sailing with the mizzen staysail in use every day and speeds getting up to between 7 and 8 knots. We arrived at La Rochelle on Thursday 4th August 19.00 and booked in to Port des Minimes Marina for three nights (68 euro). This marina is enormous with berths for 3,500 boats but it is very clean and very well organised, we would certainly recommend it. As it turns out La Rochelle has been our favourite stop in France, the town is vibrant with something for everyone.
The Market at La Rochelle
We enjoyed the morning market, the restaurants and the street entertainment (nearly as good as Edinburgh at the Festival), the museums and the harbour with all it's history. The old part of the town is very traditional with it's sun bleached houses with shuttered windows and red pantile roofs. We would recommend this as a holiday destination for anyone.
We leave in the morning for Spain and will be sorry to go as we've only scratched the surface in La Rochelle.
Can't visit France without trying the Moules