The La Rochelle-Ile-de-Ré airport (tel. 05-46-42-30-26) is on the coast, 4km (2 1/2 miles) north of the city. Take bus no. 7 to reach it. Rail connections from Bordeaux and Nantes are frequent. Six to eight trains from Bordeaux and Nantes arrive daily (trip time: 2 hr.; one-way fare: 25€). There are five daily fast TGV trains from Paris's Gare Montparnasse (trip time: 3 hr.); the one-way fare is 65€. For train information, call tel. 36-35. Buses serve the Gare Routière, place de Verdun (tel. 05-46-00-95-15 for information). If you're driving to La Rochelle, follow A10 south from Poitiers to exit NIORT/ST-MAIXENT, and then take N11 west to the coast and La Rochelle.
The Office de Tourisme is on Le Gabut (tel. 05-46-41-14-68; fax 05-46-41-99-85; www.larochelle-tourisme.com).
The busiest month is July; the Festival International du Film de La Rochelle rolls in at the beginning of the month. It attracts a huge following of fans, press, actors, directors, and, of course, paparazzi. Screenings are held around town; a pass for 10 screenings costs 45€. For information, contact the festival office in the Maison de la Culture, rue St-Jean de Perot (tel. 05-46-51-54-00 or 01-48-06-16-66; www.festival-larochelle.org). For a week in mid-July, the music festival Les Francofolies features big names as well as not-so-famous groups, most of them international pop musicians. The town is overrun with groupies and fans, and a party atmosphere prevails. Tickets range from 20€ to 35€. Call tel. 05-46-52-28-96 for details (www.francofolies.fr). The Office de Tourisme can also provide details on both festivals.
La Rochelle is also the site of the biggest showcase of boats and yachts in Europe, Le Grand Pavois Salon Nautique. It's a 5-day extravaganza in mid-September. The action is based in and around La Rochelle's Port de Plaisance (better known as the Bassin des Yachts, or Yacht Basin). Sellers and buyers of boats and marine hardware, as well as weekend sailors from everywhere, usually attend. For information about dates and venues, call tel. 05-46-44-46-39 or check www.grand-pavois.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.