La Rochelle, France

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Your New Life In La Rochelle, France

Reviewed by Lief Simon

Lief Simon is the managing editor of Global Property Advisor, Simon Letter, and Offshore Living Letter. He has purchased more than 45 properties, investing in 23 different countries around the world.

Two medieval towers at La Rochelle harbor, Charente Maritime, France in the summer
Adobe Stock/SGR Photography

La Rochelle, France boasts the third highest quality of life in France.

La Rochelle is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department on France’s west coast, bordered to the west by the Bay of Biscay, part of the Atlantic Ocean shared with Spain.

Its port, La Pallice, is the only deep-water port on the French Atlantic coast, protected by Île de Ré to the north and Île d’Oléron to the south.

This “doorway to the ocean” is the reason for the city’s longstanding commercial seafaring tradition, and it’s still ranked the sixth most important port in France today.

Certainly, the old port (Vieux-Port) is the heart of contemporary La Rochelle, and it owes its architecture to this period of affluence.

To come into the small protected harbor by sea, you pass two 14th-century towers, the larger, Saint-Nicolas Tower, acted as a fortress, and the smaller, Chain Tower, allowed a massive chain to be drawn up between the two to keep out unwanted visitors.

The third tower that dominates the skyline from the water is Lantern Tower, the former lighthouse.

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Cost Of Living In La Rochelle, France

Today, you can enjoy a meal or cocktail on top of Chain Tower, with breathtaking views of the waterfront in all directions. Indeed, the options in La Rochelle for eating out or cooking in are fantastic…

Above all, the market is the main source of shopping for people living in the center of town, so fresh produce, dairy, eggs, seafood, and meat is available by the truckload.

Open every day from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the market is busier on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The square doubles in size as vendors set up shop on the surrounding streets.

Once the initial flood of folks in the market abates (around lunchtime), the market square is a great place to stop for a few quick, casual oysters and a sip of crisp wine before the last of the vendors close up shop.

However, it’s not a fancy snack—you eat them standing up and your wine comes in a paper cup.

The seafood is fresh, delicious, and ubiquitous. In La Rochelle you’ll enjoy regular seafood—and much of it raw. Many menus are all from the sea, but even those that offer alternatives don’t have many from land.

Everyday Expenses

Rent for a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment in the center of town will run you about 1,500 euros a month.

Want to live on a budget and you’re happy with a small studio? Certainly, you can find a place in La Rochelle for as little as 500 euros a month.

For basic monthly groceries, budget around 300 to 500 euros. Electricity will be 90 euros, cell phone around 15 euros, Wi-Fi, 35 euros—all monthly.

Apartment Or House Ownership Budget (For A Couple)

ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
MortgageHOA fees are not typical in apartments in Paris.
HOA Fees€83 to €208Annual charges range from about €900 to €2,500 euros for an apartment.
Property Taxes
Transportation€31Unlimited bus use for the month is €29.16; add another €1.60 euros per month for unlimited bike usage.
Gas
Electricity€90Including reasonable air conditioning use.
Water
Cell Phone€15With Free Mobile; unlimited calls and texts, 5G, no roaming charges in Europe.
Internet€23 to €35Fiberoptic cable, 140 channels, Ultra HD4K. Also comes with home phone line.
Cable TVIncluded in internet fee.
Household Help€120 to €216For two hours per week; €15 per hour paying cash, €27 per hour paying through a professional service.
Entertainment€690Monthly cost for eating out twice a week: €560 (€70 per meal for two).
Monthly cost for drinks twice a week: €96 (€6 for glass of wine).
Movie theatre trip twice a month: €34 (€8.50 per ticket).
Groceries€500Basic items for a couple; meat from butcher, seafood fresh from the fishmonger, and local produce.
Gym Membership€42.50
Medical Appointment€25Consultation with general practitioner.
TOTAL€1,619.50 to €1,852.50

Apartment Or House Rental Budget (For A Couple) In La Rochelle

ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
Rent€1,500In the center of town or nearby; for a one- or two-bedroom apartment of at least 75 square meters.
Transportation€31Unlimited bus use for the month is €29.16; add another €1.60 euros per month for unlimited bike usage.
Gas
Electricity€90Including reasonable air conditioning use.
Water
Cell Phone€15With Free Mobile; unlimited calls and texts, 5G, no roaming charges in Europe.
Internet€23 to €35Fiberoptic cable, 140 channels, Ultra HD4K. Also comes with home phone line.
Cable TVIncluded in internet fee.
Household Help€120 to €216For two hours per week; €15 per hour paying cash, €27 per hour paying through a professional service.
Entertainment€690Monthly cost for eating out twice a week: €560 (€70 per meal for two).
Monthly cost for drinks twice a week: €96 (€6 for glass of wine).
Movie theatre trip twice a month: €34 (€8.50 per ticket).
Groceries€500Basic items for a couple; meat from butcher, seafood fresh from the fishmonger, and local produce.
Gym Membership€42.50
Medical Appointment€25Consultation with general practitioner.
TOTAL€3,036.50 to €3,144.50

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Penny-Pincher’s Budget (Bare Minimum Costs, For A Couple)

ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
Rent€500For a studio or one-bedroom apartment of 25 square meters or less.
Transportation€20This would require mostly walking and biking, with sparing use of buses. For unlimited biking, you pay only 1.60 euros a month; you can get a bundle of 10 bus tickets for 11 euros (no expiration).
GasGas for your car.
Electricity€75Lower costs due to smaller space.
Water
Cell Phone€15With Free Mobile; unlimited calls and texts, 5G, no roaming charges in Europe.
Internet
Cable TV
Entertainment€498Monthly cost for eating out twice a week: €400 (€50 per meal for two).
Monthly cost for drinks twice a week: €64 (€4 per drink during happy hour).
Movie theatre trip twice a month: €34 (€8.50 per ticket).
Groceries€300Buying at local markets and in bulk when possible.
TOTAL€1,408

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Local Culture, Golf And Surf

Things To Do In La Rochelle

La Rochelle offers plenty to do outdoors and around the sea.

Between the beaches, boating, fishing, and whatever else you like to do by the water, the only limit is your imagination. You can even surf here.

A main draw for tourists and residents are the beaches.

From the Vieux-Port, Plage de la Concurrence is mere minutes’ walk, Plage de Minimes about 30 minutes, and countless others are within biking or driving distance.

Three of the beaches are supervised. Also, some are labeled for “Accessibilité PMR” or as “espace aménagé,” indicating their handicap access. This could mean that the space itself has been made accessible or there are various types of all-terrain personal vehicles available.

No matter the time of year, the beaches are always in use. They’re packed end to end at the height of tourist season (July and August) but, otherwise, it’s just locals enjoying the surf. If it’s too cold for a dip, the coast is the perfect spot for a stroll.

Golf isn’t a common pastime in France, yet there are several courses in the area. An 18-hole course is just 20 minutes from town, and there are several 9-hole courses, driving ranges, and academies within an hour.

The local cultural center, Carré Amelot, offers a full calendar of events including dance, music, art exhibitions, educational programs, and more throughout the year.

For instance, art expos and installations can be found throughout the city, both in traditional galleries but also in experimental spaces like old churches or within the ruins of the city walls.

The surrounding countryside is full of history, vineyards, and towns worth a visit, including Cognac and Pineau, famous for their namesake wines.

Mild Year-Round Weather

Weather In La Rochelle

The climate in La Rochell is oceanic with mild year-round weather due to the influence of the Gulf Stream.

La Rochelle summers are fairly warm, but the area rarely gets extreme temperatures in either direction.

Thanks to the temperate climate, Mediterranean-type vegetation thrives alongside more continental and oceanic types of foliage, making the area and its islands remarkably green no matter the time of year.

On the other hand, it can get nippy here, and the area does get a winter. I was told that it can often be windy—not surprising for a seaside town—and that when the wind chill sets in, it’s not nearly as comfortable to be outside.

When it comes to visiting, there’s really no bad time of year. The warmest months are July and August, but I’d actually recommend against coming then, as it’s the height of the tourist season.

The best seasons to visit la Rochelle are spring and autumn. For instance, there’s a noticeable lull during autumn and winter, which locals relish.

The beaches are empty, the perfect venues for long walks, and the streets and bike lanes are much less crowded.

During winter, it won’t be freezing cold, but dress appropriately—that means layers and waterproofs.

While La Rochelle only gets about 30 inches of rain per year, this is a waterfront area, so expect a sea mist and damp ground.

La Rochelle - FAQs

What Is La Rochelle Known For?

The most charming thing about life in La Rochelle is the quaint veneer painted over an entirely modern city. La Rochelle is a real city with plenty to see and do, but it’s got the feel of a small town.

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