The Only Americans in La Rochelle, France

When traveling Europe, one finds that English-speaking tourists are quite plentiful in big cities like Florence, Paris and Rome. In Paris especially, us Americans are basically a dime a dozen.

But in the lovely French harbor town of La Rochelle? We were actually kind of a novelty. In fact my mom, little sister and I were the only non-French speaking tourists who seemed to be visiting at all.

La Rochelle, located squarely on the French Atlantic, is a tourist-friendly town known for its 10th century harbor, sea views and oysters.

Considering I had read so much about La Rochelle’s famed oysters, I couldn’t believe our luck when we came across an oyster vendor selling his wares on the cobblestone streets right across from our hotel.

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And for the bargain price of €5.50 for 6 oysters, who wouldn’t want to try?

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The oyster vendor came over with a bucket of bread and butter, as well as a plastic knife, and showed us how to remove the oysters from their shells and drizzle lemon on them. (Actually he was technically just teaching my sister considering I used to work at an oyster bar in San Francisco, ahem.)

My sister slurped her oyster down (which incidentally was her first oyster ever), and sweetly remarked, “They kind of taste like the ocean.”

I later relayed that message to the oyster seller, who nodded his head and sagely responded, “C’est une bonne observation.

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The next morning, we saw La Rochelle in a new light- literally.

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After some wandering, we made our way over to the Sunday morning market. As always, few things in France charm me more than the markets: the black chalkboards scrawled with chalk cursive, the piles of fresh, seasonal vegetables, the locals arguing about how long bread should be cooked. (My vote? Pas trop cuite.)

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And being a port town, there were plenty of my favorite fish up for offer…

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We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon day-tripping to the darling Île de Ré (post soon!), and when we returned in the evening all we wanted to do was some good old-fashioned sightseeing. And when we passed by a Ferris Wheel, we decided to take a spin on it- because where else to better photograph a port-town sunset?

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My little sis and I loved the terracotta roofs paired with the little lighthouses, and the panoramic views of harbor.

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And of course, took some windblown portraits of each other.

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Once our feet were back on the ground, we meandered around the harbor and enjoyed a few last moments in La Rochelle, made golden by the setting sunset.

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After our time in Paris hearing so much English, it was fun to feel special for a few days. And à mon avis, it’s always fun to wander 10th century harbors and eat oysters.

Have you ever been the only of your kind (i.e. American, Australian, etc.) in a foreign city? Wasn’t it fun?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

6 thoughts on “The Only Americans in La Rochelle, France”

  1. As my Frenchman is from (historic) Brittany, I’ve been up in the region fairly regularly. We’ve been touring small towns that are not too far to drive to from his parents’, and most of the time, I’m pretty much the only Asian around. I get a lot of curious looks, and I surprise the people too when I speak to them in French, albeit with a foreign accent. ;)

  2. Although I was in France, I’ve never heard of La Rochelle. That must have felt so weird to be only non-French speaking tourists. This city looks so charming and the baguettes… yummy!

  3. The food looks amazing! I think it’s great that you were in a beautiful part of France that wasn’t swarmed by tourists. Must have made for a very authentic experience. I’ve been in a similar situation before in Germany when visiting a friend in a small town. One of my fondest memories from that trip!

  4. oh splendid! I’ve yet to make it to Brittany, but now that I’m in Guernsey, have a car, and can take the ferry to St Malo I think i’ll be paying a visit soon!

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