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Europe » France » Poitou-Charentes » La Rochelle
March 29th 2012
Published: March 31st 2012
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Spring isn't just in Bordeaux; it seems the whole country has jumped on the bandwagon. I passed fields while on the train that a month ago were covered in snow but are now blooming and bursting with color: lavender flowers, green grasses, yellow blossoms, apple trees with their pink flowers; it's almost enough to make one feel optimistic.

We've come to the point in my travels where I'm not doing much of anything and choose instead to pass my days on the beach and tanning. Ok, to be honest I am burning, but I find my new "rouge" coloring to be worth the price of lying by the water and reading a good book.

So this is how I passed my time in La Rochelle, with sun and more sun. The old port is protected from the open water by three towers, two of which stand at the harbor mouth. They still proudly wave French flags and make it seem like the town is a world a part and centuries behind. Unfortunately once I get past the stone fortress I am disappointed to discover medieval this city is not: bars line the streets facing the water, sail boats and
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Old Port
yachts compete for anchorage, and my fellow sunburnt tourists swarm around like a pack of bees, all the different languages making the air tingle.

My morning walk along the beach turned into a sea shell hunt and I was joined by a fellow explorer. He was dressed all in tan, like a safari outfit seen in old movies. His pant legs were rolled up, his feet covered in sand, and there was a pair of goggles on his head, his hair sticking up at odd angles beneath them.

"Bonjour," I said as he moved up next to me and began searching the pile I had just finished with.

"Bonjour," he replied (and here I will translate for you but just picture this in French) "Are you collecting shells? I am collecting shells. I like collecting shells."

"Really? What kind do you like? Special ones, colorful ones?" I hand him one particularly ugly specimen and he puts it in his hand.

"No, I just like shells." Like he needs any other reason. Oh, and he was maybe six years old.

As my explorer friend leaves and joins his mother and sister, I sit back and watch the beach fill up. First parents arrive with their youngins, the latter sitting down the minute they reach the sand and take their shoes off. Then comes the vacationing couples and around lunchtime the younger crowd shows up, mostly students from the nearby college ditching out on work or studies.

So here is where you'll find me. I'll be the only one fully dressed, not having packed anything for this type of weather. Or look for the reddest one here, and for the number of tourists, that is saying a lot!


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