The trip started with our arrival at a stuck-in-time airport, very 1940s and complete with a flight club. It's close to town, though the bus service is so regular (except on Sundays) that there's no reason to cab into town. Our hotel, the lovely Best Western Champlain France Angleterre (get a garden room!) was just behind the largest square in town, the location of the main bus station and a double-decker carousel. It was like the movie Umbrellas of Cherbourg, somehow, the coastal light and all of the light gray rock building (though perhaps as likely like Young Girls of Rochefort).
The town is very French Renaissance, all stone arcades in the middle of town with piles of pastry and lingerie shops behind them. We went on a recon mission pretty soon after we showed up, and found the very lovely harbors at the middle of town (well, the edge really, but it felt like the were the heart of the town), stone and old as heck, with some really impressive towers guarding the entrances (with bonus lighthouses). Dining options seemed very sea oriented, which did me not a bit of good, but of course there were also piles of French brasseries, which meant Grin with cat attached could get the steak and frites he wanted and I was good for a buckwheat crepe (a "galette") for lunch complete with French cider served in a ceramic pitcher with a mug to drink it out of. It was delish but a bit deadly, requiring a recovery nap. Afterwards we cruised around town doing silly things like finding a SIM (him) and buying new strategy games (me) then had an early and very cheap (€14 each for two courses and wine) dinner at Le Soleil Brille sur Tous Le Monde. My lasagne was great and I was thrilled that I sweet talked them into giving us a table (depite their being fully booked) by promising to leave before their 2nd wave of diners came in. Yum! And being done early meant more time to read the very cool Stacia Kane "Unholy Magic" book. It's right there in the Sookie family (sex and magic in basically the world of today) but very dark. (Good recommendation Ms lolliepopp and thanks for the loan.)
Next day we had quite a shower in the morning but were free of rain from 10AM on. After breakfast (more crepes!) we decided to do Tourist Stuff ... and sit by the beach listening to the breakers coming in while wechsler chilled and tried to fight off his energy-draining cold. Then we headed to the aquarium, guaranteed to be nice in any weather. It was a very top quality place, unlike many dirtier places I've been (the one near Nice comes to mind): the parents kept their children in line and they even played classical music overhead. And they had Sea Turtles WOO and special coral rooms! Of course the jellyfish collection was nothing compared to the Scripps aquarium but overall it was really lovely. The next day was our Trip On A Boat day. There are several islands off the coast of La Rochelle; the big one is Ile du Rei (I think), which you can get to by car, but the neat boat trips went to a fort floating (it seemed) on the water and then to Ile D'Aix, a rather small island that had been the site of some major military installations over the centuries and rather a lot of slaughter of the inhabitants. Now it's a fun, small island you can easily walk end to end in two hours, with forts to explore, beaches of all sorts, a few bakeries and gelato shops, and generally NEAT. It was fun to see the fort seemingly floating in the water, but we couldn't explore it, but we saw piles of old military stuff on the island and just had a really good time in general there. And we had lots of sun! This was definitely the best day of the trip. Our final day we had really a lot of time before the flight and went for quite a full day's sightseeing. I was able to convince wechsler to see the Automaton museum, which was full of all of these moving statues that used to be used for advertising and stuff - you know, like in American Gods, the fortune telling ladies. I went crazy making movies there: here's one. Feel the fear.
Then afterward we went to the boat museum, which had three retired boats you could run around (fishing, tug, research vessel). Best of all, the biggest one had a cafe on top, where we had the best meal of the trip, sitting at the harbor, surrounded by locals, eating a three course meal for 14 euros. It was fab, all in all a perfect way to end the trip and end a long and amazing summer. Thanks wechsler for a great time! With that, tomorrow is the start of fall, and I wonder what the future holds?