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The Towers of la Rochelle


The development of La Rochelle as a city began in the 11th century, and was assured from the 14th century onwards by the protection afforded by its towers. The Tour Saint-Nicolas and the Tour de la Chaîne were particularly important, as they controlled the entry of trading ships to the city’s port.


The Tour Saint-Nicolas and the Tour de la Chaîne form the majestic gateway to the Old Port, and for ten centuries they were indispensable to the city’s defence.


La Tour Saint Nicolas

This tower was constructed as a military building facing the ocean just after liberation from the English in 1372. La Tour Saint Nicolas symbolised the wealth and power of La Rochelle. At 42 metres in height, the tower includes a labyrinth of staircases and corridors within its walls.

La Tour de la Chaîne

La Tour de la Chaîne marks the entry point to the old port. From the tower, the movement of ships was surveyed and taxes were collected.

La Tour de la Lanterne

The 55-metre Tour de la Lanterne is the very last surviving medieval lighthouse on the Atlantic seaboard, which makes it the oldest lighthouse on the Atlantic coast. At one point in its history the tower became a navy prison, and contains more than 600 examples of graffiti carved into the walls by prisoners over three centuries.


Opening hours:

Open every day except the first Monday of each month.

April - September:

10am - 1pm, 2:15 pm - 6:30