Lovely peaceful  pearl by the sea,   La Rochelle with its dramatic past of a powerful proud and cruelly  crushed Protestant community (the Huguenots)

  rich on slave trade and too independent for the 17 th century Louis XIV and cardinal Richelieu. Well preserved old town even more attractive with the  vibrancy of a vital  university apart fromr boating with several small ports in the city. Bridge to nearby sandy chic island of Ile de Ré with good bus transportation.   St Martin town on the island has a chic small port priceworthy hotels good  restaurants and plenty of beaches,  plus in every bush a camping site. Lots of English visitors guarantees the locals speak English.

Hotel standards in La Rochelle itself good and priceworthy, plenty of reasonably priced seafood restaurants along the quais.

An excellent  internet hall with many machines at low rate just nearby the TOurist office an extra attraction.  Do not miss the splendid Aquarium just next to it.

 Easily reached via fast TGV train from Paris (Montparnasse station). On Mondays shops are very closed indeed until late afternoon.