Our favourite shopping destinations, from the Arcades in La Rochelle to the Saint-Nicolas quarter
Visiting La Rochelle without wandering through its arcades would be like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. An icon of the town, the arcades offer you the chance to learn more about its history, but also do a bit of shopping. La Rochelle is home to many hidden gems, whether you’re looking for a chic boutique in the centre of town, or you’re a bigger fan of the bohemian style of the Saint Nicolas quarter.
The arcades of La Rochelle
Located in the centre of the town, the arcades are a vital part of La Rochelle’s heritage. These stone arches, which date from the Middle Ages, criss-cross the town between Rue Mercier and Rue du Palais. They were designed to protect traders’ stalls from inclement weather. Today they play the same role, letting you shop away from the rain or the summer sun! As you shop, you’ll have ample opportunity to admire the half-timbered gabled houses that remain to this day. Rue de l’Escale, the only street to have kept its original paving made from large, round Canadian slabs,also hides some of the most beautiful remnants of La Rochelle’s past.
A few of the chic boutiques in the centre of town
These eye-catching, picturesque boutiques under the arcades of La Rochelle are difficult to resist! With everything from fashion to furnishings and tea rooms, you won’t know where to turn, or where to put your credit card.
Here are some chic boutiques (plus a few selling locally made products) – perfect for picking up some classy souvenirs.
- Lazzara: men and women are catered for by this brand, which operates two shops open to both. These boutiques offer high-end items and designer pieces in sophisticated surroundings.
For 100% local shopping, you can’t miss the places we’ve listed below:
- Near to the Town Hall, the Retour de Plage boutique offers a wide array of pretty jewellery and accessories in a combination of colours and materials, all designed and crafted in workshops on Île d’Oléron.
At the Encan, La Rochelle’s former fish market
- Farol knives: quality knives with an unmistakable design (you’ll instantly recognise their famous whale-shaped handle). If you’re tempted to buy one of their many elegant models, you should know that each knife is made individually! You can even visit the workshop where the parts are made.
- Matlama: a boutique with an original concept, Matlama offers bags and hampers made from unusual materials, such as sails and tarpaulin. The results are superb and production is 100% local. The boutique also hosts exhibits by regional artists.
Near to the Grosse-Horloge clock tower:
- Criollos: you can’t leave La Rochelle without trying this master chocolatier’s pavés, or slabs, which are made exclusively on their premises using pure cocoa butter and are free from preservatives, gluten and colourings. An undisputed delicacy!
Extend your shopping trip to the Saint Nicolas quarter
Located just to the south of the arcades of La Rochelle, over the canal, the Saint Nicolas–quarter is a place you won’t be able to resist. You’ll feel at home straight away in its village-like vibe. The atmosphere is relaxed, and you’ll swap chic and classic boutiques for more bohemian establishments, concept stores and second-hand shops. During your wanderings, you might end up bargain hunting in an art gallery, browsing second-hand books or just having a coffee in a little sunny square.
We’ll give you a hand with a few of the quarter’s must-visits.
- Welta: it’s impossible to miss this second-hand clothes store, which has been a local icon for years! It’s an essential place to pick up some purchases without breaking the bank. New stock arrives every week.
- The flea market: if you’re lucky enough to be in La Rochelle on a Thursday or Saturday, you know where you’re spending your morning – Rue Saint Nicolas. We challenge you not to unearth a bargain at this picturesque antiques and bric-a-brac market.
- Bien à LR : for a 100% La Rochelle shopping experience. This new La Rochelle brand offers homeware with modern, thoughtful designs. They are also an environmentally friendly, responsible business – another reason to fall in love with them!
- Pourquoi pas ?: this is a very pretty concept store that mixes bric-a-brac, sculptures, jewellery and more, all in a very eclectic setting. It’s simple: at Pourquoi pas ? there’s something for every taste.