La Rochelle, France

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Cruising to La Rochelle

Having been one of France's most important seaports during the Middle Ages, La Rochelle provides a fascinating glimpse at a bygone era, with ancient forts, cobbled walkways and gargoyle statues helping to transport visitors back to times of yore.

However, not everything here is old, and the city's historic attractions are wonderfully contrasted with the state-of-the-art aquarium - which is one of the finest in the world. Upon entering, visitors descend all the way down to the sea bed, where they then take a journey through a glass tunnel to discover the submarine wonders of the Atlantic.

Back on dry land, La Rochelle's most iconic attractions are the two defensive towers which stand at either side of the entrance to the harbour. Built in the 14th century, the towers were once connected by an enormous chain which would be raised each night in order to prevent invading ships from entering the port.

Elsewhere, the Musee du Nuveau Monde provides a fascinating insight into the role that La Rochelle once played as a major departure point for voyages to the Americas, while the Museum of Fine Arts boasts a superb collection of pieces dating from the 15th to 20th centuries.

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