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Richelieu sur la digue de La Rochelle

Important dates

La Rochelle was founded in the 10th century as a fishing village which began to expand in the 12th century to reach its apogee in the following century through the wine and salt trade.

With the protestant coup d’état on January 9th 1568, the people of La Rochelle opted for the reformed side. The city then acquired the status of free city. But in 1628, Louis XIII and Richelieu laid siege to the city, which threatened the latter's policy of unification, for thirteen months. Faced with famine, the city fell and found itself without a town hall and stripped of its privileges.

Sea trade helped it back to its former glory, especially thanks to regular interchange with New France and the West Indies. From 1694, trade picked up as did the intellectual renaissance and artistic influence.

In the 19th century, wars and the French Revolution put the city into a stupor until the creation of the port of La Pallice in 1890. During the Second World War this became a German submarine base. In 1945, La Rochelle was the last French city to be liberated but luckily escaped major damage.

© La Rochelle 2008