Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The three towers of La Rochelle- 'Tour de la Chaine'

The three towers of what remains of the medieval maritime fortifications of La Rochelle harbour stand as proud today as they did back in the early days of their construction in the 14th century. The port played a major part in France's history well into the 17th century.  Today of course they are tourist attractions with their terraces being ideal viewpoints for the glorious surrounding vistas. The 'Vieux Port' with its marina and towers as a backdrop is one of those places where you get a good feeling just being there.

Each tower has many stories to tell and each played its unique part in the history of this coastal port. The first tower we chose to visit was the 'Tour de la Chaine' which is the one in the middle of the three in the above photograph. Its name comes from the fact that it used to house a large chain that connected it to the Saint Nicolas Tower closing the port to shipping. Built in the late 14th century the tower originally stood 34 metres high but its use as an explosive depot during the 'the Fronde' (1648-1652),an uprising of noblemen against the French royals,proved ill-advised as it blew up taking the roof and 14metres off the top of the tower! It would be hundreds of years before the roof was reinstated (but not 400 as their brochure tells us - that would mean we are still waiting for it!).

It now houses a very good audio/visual display charting France's exploration and colonization of many parts of 'The New World'

 The top of the tower gave us our first taste of the spectacular views over the harbour and the city and the two towers we had yet to explore.


  1. We spent a couple of days in the area back in July and to describe the vistas as "glorious" is certainly not an over-statement. It's a fascinating place. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  2. We will have to return as I know there is more to see.More of the 'towers' coming up.