Known as La Ville Blanche ("the white city") but could be called "green" as much for its innovative public transport (sea bus, electric taxi, electric delivery vans and so on). From airport you can get to the city center in just 12-15 min by bus nr 7 (1.30 euro)
La Rochelle has also its own free bike scheme, just look for Yélo sign. You can hire bikes from the Tourist office on Le Gabut (2 hours free, then every hour - 1 euro)
The three medieval towers: Tour de la Chaîne (1390) ("Chain tower"), Tour St. Nicolas (36 m high and possible to climb) and Tour de la Lanterne (12th-century) still "guard" the entrance to the city and offer a superb view of the bay.
Just out of the town center in Les Minimes a small but nice beach, you can cycle over there in just 10 min or go by sea bus (20 min, 2 euro one way ticket). With 3500 berths Les Minimes is Europe's biggest marina on the Atlantic coast, it hosts Europe's biggest floating boat show: the Grand Pavois
Île de Ré (16 000, from RA - Egyptian Sun god) is one of the city's great attractions (joined by a bridge since 1988). You can access this beautiful island by car (you have to pay a toll on the bridge), bus or bicycle (on foot as well), pedestrians and cyclists go free.
Arguably the best attraction in La Rochelle is local Aquarium. You can literally spend hours and hours there, wandering around and wondering about abundance of so exotic and colorful fish species living in the planet's oceans. There you can find a special niche where you yourself can become a fish! Look for a "fishfloor" and don't miss a calm but gracious sharks and... a "smiling" saw-fish! Despite the price (14 euro for an adult) people normally queuing for a long time to get in. Here's my tip - buy tickets early in the morning from the Tourist office on Le Gabut (next to the Aquarium), then just go through a special door (VIP entrance for people with tickets), show your ticket and "enjoy the fish"!
Just a 5 min walk from the city center takes you to the SNFC Gare (railway station) to catch a train to the world famous town of Cognac (under the Latin name Comniacum). It's a journey just under 1,5 hours with stopover in Saintes (day return ticket costs 32 euro)
Local seafood is an obligatory and rewarding experience, especially freshly caught mussels, cooked in different sauces but beware before ordering any drinks - even a small bottle of orange juice can set you back for whopping 3.60 euro! Best for lunch is formule: mussels, red or white wine and dessert (try an apple pie - it's very delicious!)
By some unknown to me reason La Rochelle is very well stocked by rather strong (very strong) sorts of beer... 7°, 8°, or even 9° is typical but how about Amsterdam Maximator... it's 11.6°!