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La Rochelle is a port city in the Poitou-Charentes region, at the heart of the Atlantic sea front in the Bay of Biscay. It is also the capital of the Charente- Maritime department. The city is connected to the Ile de Re by a 1.8 mile bridge and its harbour opens into a protected strait – the Pertuis d’Antioche. It is one of the most attractive and dynamic cities in France that has managed to turn its maritime base into an economic, tourism and cultural asset.
La Rochelle was first founded in the 10th century as a fishing village and began to expand in the 12th century through the wine and salt trade. Despite a protestant coup in 1568 that saw the city acquire the status of a free city, in 1628 Louis XIII laid siege to the city. Faced with famine, the city fell and found itself without a town hall and stripped of its privileges. From 1694 La Rochelle’s sea trade, along with the intellectual renaissance, helped the city back to its former glory. This continued with the creation of the port of La Pallice in 1890.