I spent an afternoon exploring the city of La Rochelle before catching the 3pm train to Bordeaux. Although the train station was unable to hold my bags for me, I was relieved when they pointed me in the direction of a hotel just down the road who happily took them for 4 hours at a cost of 2€. Liberated, I set off down the grand avenue towards the port, opening my umbrella on the way. The old port of the city is surrounded by a thick rampart and its entry is guarded by two thick stone towers. You can pay for a tour and get a good view of the city and the ocean, but since it was a rainy day I decided to amuse myself and keep my wallet happy. I stopped to sketch La Grosse Horloge (A beautiful mediaval gateway, renovated in the middle ages and the following centuries resulting in the bell tower and gateway that exists today. Wandering the streets, I was amazed by the very different, very classic buildings and captured a few interesting details with my camera (looking back through my photographs, I think I have a slight obsession with blue doors). I found myself outside a large church, and feeling in an exploratory mood, I entered. It was worth it, as the interior was stunning. Among the treasures it contained was a floor to ceiling pipe organ, an ornately furnished chapel for silent prayer, a crèche complete with a little stream of running water and a series of beautifully complex stained glass windows that caught the light. I later discovered this was the Cathédrale Saint-Louis and quite a landmark of the town. The 2pm sun set the puddles shimmering as I realised I was slightly disorientated. I was lost and the time left to find my luggage and the train station was disappearing. I set down my bag and pulled out the map I had asked for at the Tourism Office. Soon I was back on track, and thanking myself for having been two steps ahead earlier in the day. I was well on time for the train, and glad to sit and close my eyes, tired after all they’d seen that day.
Lesson: Get a map and use it!