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A Charming Hotel in a Seaside City On the Atlantic Coast of France

– by Terry Robards


La Rochelle is a charming port city on the Atlantic coast of France, about 280 miles southwest of Paris and 100 miles north of Bordeaux, a picturesque place that I discovered years ago when looking for offshore breezes in the heat of early summer. It was time for another visit en route to Bordeaux in April, so I consulted my Michelin Guide for a place to stay.

The Hotel Trianon et de la Plage seemed promising, and the price was right, rooms ranging from 70 to 84 euros ($94.50-$113), according to the guide, though we actually paid a lower off-season rate of 67 euros ($90.45) for a double. Michelin had called it “19th century character with bourgeois comfort,” which is exactly what it was.

It was one of those establishments that oozes comfort as soon as you set foot inside, with carpeted floors, floral wallpaper, crystal chandeliers overhead and a winding staircase to the second-floor rooms. It was also about three blocks from the old harbor itself, just far enough to be quiet but close enough so that the sights of the old city beckoned.

Several nearby restaurants looked interesting, but it was an off-season Sunday night and most were closed. The hotel’s spacious dining room offered white table cloths and moderate prices, and we dined well, about $28 each for appetizer, main course and a shared cheese platter. A bottle of rich Côtes-du-Rhône added $18.

Our stay lasted only one night because we were due in Bordeaux the next morning, but we vowed to return for a longer sojourn to sample those nearby restaurants, perhaps visit the casino and sightsee along the waterfront.

Hotel Trianon et de la Plage, 6 rue Monnaie, La Rochelle, France. Tel. from the U.S. 011-33-5-46-41-21-35. Email trianonlarochelle@wanadoo.fr. Fax 011-33-5-46-41-95-78. Closed Dec. 22-Feb. 1. Dining room closed Saturday lunch and Sunday Oct. 15-March 15.