Laterne Tower in La Rochelle

by on August 11, 2008


We spent 3 days on the Atlantic coast of France at Rochefort, 40kms south of La Rochelle.

We had a delightful experience with an elderly Frenchman and his son after we stopped on a street in La Rochelle to get our bearings.  We arrived at La Rochelle at the busiest time and with the help of the two locals…they noticed us looking at our map…we quickly realized we would have to go south to Rochefort where we found a very nice campsite.  From there we explored the area including a day trip by train to La Rochelle.  

La Rochelle is a very beautiful (and expensive) medieval port.   I will post a slide show but my favourite building was…the Laterne Tower (1445 to 1468)  the building you see here on the far left…

Laterne and Chaine Towers

Sign posts report that it is the only surviving medieval lighthouse on the Atlantic coast.  The stone tower held a huge candle that was lit at night to guide the seafarers.   It is also known as the Priest Tower after a massacre of priests occurred here in 1568 (during the Protestant Wars, I assume).

Laterne Tower

In the 17th century it was converted to a prison and it is said that the walls are covered with graffiti carved by the many pirates and prisoners held there.   It is also referred to as the The Four Sergeants Tower in memory of  the four Bonapartists plotters who were captured in La Rochelle (1822) and held prisoner here until the were carted to Paris to meet their demise at the guillotine.

Here you can guage the size of the tower…

Laterne Tower

A closer shot of the Laterne Tower and the Chaine Tower…with the base of the Saint-Nicolas Tower to the right. The purpose of the Chaine was to control the port’s shipping traffic and the Saint-Nicolas Tower is described as a maze of military facilities including an astounding royal residence.

Laterne and Chaine Towers

And finally a shot of the top of the Saint-Nicolas Tower.

Saint-Nicolas Tower

After La Rochelle…we intended to travel north to Paris but our Sydney-friend …

Le Frogge  Le Frogge…

is unexpectedly visiting his family in the south of France and invited us to join him.  So here we are in a region called Ardeche meeting the member’s of Le Frogge’s family that we don’t yet know…he has eight brothers and sisters many of whom are scattered around this semi-arid but stunning mountainous region.  And we are experiencing a side of French culture that only the locals can show you.

Oh look…a church! Right in the village where we are staying…

St Andeol de Vals

Off to Paris soon!


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