In the continuing series, Tootlafrance visits the luxury city-centre apart-hotel Résidence de France in La Rochelle
Résidence de France
43 Rue du Minage, 17000 La Rochelle, France.
First Impressions :
Situated on one of La Rochelle’s beautiful colonnaded city-centre streets within a short walk of absolutely everything, the initial feeling is of stepping into an art gallery or somebody’s upmarket home in the middle of town. Soft seating with coffee tables invite, as does a grand piano that offers musical recitals in the summer. All is white and airy and courtyards seem to open up all around. It feels like an oasis of relaxation in the middle of a busy city.
The building is in the large historical centre of La Rochelle. The city was saved from the hands of developers back in the early 1970s by a forward-thinking mayor who decided that to go “redeveloping” the beautiful buildings that the German Navy loved so well (it was the main base for their Atlantic fleet during the Second World War) would be to kill the goose that will keep laying golden eggs. This wasn’t popular policy at the time but he was proven in time to be right. Now, it’s a given for most towns, but La Rochelle was the first.As for the history of this particular building, the concierge told me that apart from the fat that one of the main Nazis lived there during the German Occupation, he wasn’t sure if it had any particular historical significance. A bookseller down the street told me that it was once a monastery and the interior courtyard where the car park is situated certainly gives that cloistered feel.
Who do We Know has Stayed There?
Apparently, La Rochelle was a favourite place to visit amongst the occupying forces during WWII and all the main characters came down from Paris and/or Vichy and visited the Résidence at some point. Gérard Depardieu and Audrey Tautou have both rested their weary heads here – at different times and in different bedrooms, I might add. It suits anyone with a travelling entourage very well as most of the accommodation is of the self-catering kind.
Do They Look After You?
Although it is five-star, the stars are more for the size and quality of the accommodation, the beautiful swimming pool (it feels like a film set and you can lose yourself there for hours) and the location. The pampering is not of that standard simply because it’s not quite that kind of hotel. Staff seem to have an attentive if slightly laissez-faire attitude compared to your normal 5-star hotel where service is there before you can think it.
What are the Rooms Like?
Rooms are very spacious, well equipped and extremely comfortable. The rooms that overlook the courtyard are very atmospheric, with the higher floors offering views over the rooftops of La Rochelle that make you feel like you’re in the middle of an important ecclesiastical city.
There is no restaurant at the Résidence de France. Because of its location, this isn’t a problem as you have a veritable wealth of fantastic restaurants within a very short walk. The Résidence does breakfast all right. There’s a large and decent buffet available at €15/head (free for under-18s), which comes out as good value when you’re travelling with children.
The Bottom Line
Prices start at €150/night in low season for the Chambre Classique and go up to €435/night in very high season for the large 65m2 panoramic apartment that sleeps six comfortably. Check the website for further details and deals.
www.hotel-larochelle.com. Tel: +33 5 46 28 06 00. Email: email@example.com