The towers of La Rochelle, Chaîne!

So let me show something wonderful just a few hours south of my house and a place we came to love as my oldest son study hotellerie/restaurant courses there. He went and we follow, to our amazed eyes several years back, and have since return several times. I will be telling you about the tours or towers of the harbor of La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime dept  17 in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine! Bear with me on repetitions…as introduction is the same.

Once in town, we walk, and walk is a walker’s paradise of quaint old streets and historical buildings, we took the tour de la Chaine, tour de St Nicolas, and the  tour de la Lantern. The development of this new city of the 11C is assured from the 14C by the protection offered by the towers, including the towers of St. Nicholas and the Chaine that regulate the entry of many merchant ships in its port.

All three designed to serve as a residence, two towers out of three (ie the tower of Saint Nicolas and the tower of the Chaine) were also places of detention between the 16C and 18C for the Huguenots and foreign sailors. They then become military prisons in the 19C. The Lantern Tower was used to disarm the boats upstream of the port and was a lighthouse. The boutiques of the Chaîne and Saint-Nicolas towers offer throughout the year a wide range of books, products for young and old. The shops are free access and are open 7 days a week during the opening hours of the towers.

The tour de la Chaîne or tower of the Chain  is  20 meters today, from the base of the parapet. It has a diameter of 16 meters and its wall is 3.50 meters thick. It was surmounted by a capuche, or roof in the form of a slate peppered roof, which, rebuilt several times at different heights, The tower was crowned with battlements with cruciform loopholes, with machicolations.

La Rochelle

The salle d’accueil (reception room) is the only one to have resisted the episode of the Fronde (local wars). The Grande salle (great hall), with its chimney, was in the 14C the reception room of the tower. The stairs, leading to the third level (4th US) , are vaulted into segmental cradle. The salle du capitaine (Captain’s room) originally, the room was a space reserved for the captain of the tower. The salle suspendue (suspended room) . It materializes one of the levels that disappeared during the collapse of the tower in 1651. The main building was the guardhouse that was built in the wall connecting the petite tour de la Chaîne  (small tower of the chain) to the Grosse tour de la Chaîne (big tower of the chain). François Rabelais evokes the chain closing the old port in his book, Pantagruel!.

The Tour de la Chaîne is from this tower that was maneuvered the chain, fixed in the tower Saint-Nicolas on the other bank, so as to prohibit access to the port. In fact, there were two towers of the Chain at this spot: a small tower of the Chain which sheltered the capstan serving to stretch the chain; a big tower of the Chain intended to lodge the captain of the tower, his family and the garrison; the two towers are interconnected by a two-level gallery. The precise date of construction is unknown perhaps between 1378 and 1380 or between 1382 and 1390. A captain lives there until 1472 , and from 1472, the tower becomes the residence of the governor of the city.

The Tour de la Chaîne  hosts a café which occupies the second level and the high bastion or terrace. The entrance is at the level of the wall. The first level, there is a  model of the city of yesteryear, access to the room was from the port. Unlike the two other towers of the port, the tower of the Chain did not find its vocation of museum until  very late. For this purpose, the restoration of the third level of the tower was undertaken in 1998. The space allows to host an exhibition on the Huguenot past of the city. At the fourth level of the tower  it is certain that it existed formerly, no trace could allow to reconstitute it in the identical today. This lack of reference has made a very contemporary choice with a suspended floor that seems to float at the top of the tower. Devoted to a museum, the tower can be visit all year long.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official National Monument Tours of La Rochelle

Tourist office of La Rochelle on the towers

There you go this is an amazing tower and well worth the visit to La Rochelle, a beautiful city indeed.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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