commune in Charente-Maritime, France
La Rochelle (; French: [la ʁɔʃɛl]; Poitevin-Saintongese: La Rochéle) is a city on the central west coast of France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department. With 75,735 inhabitants in 2017, La Rochelle is the most populated commune in the department and ranks fifth in the New Aquitaine region after Bordeaux, the regional capital, Limoges, Poitiers and Pau. Its inhabitants are called "les Rochelaises" and "les Rochelais".
Situated on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean the city is connected to the Île de Ré by a 2.9-kilometre (1.8-mile) bridge completed on 19 May 1988. Its harbour opens into a protected strait, the Pertuis d'Antioche since the Middle-Ages. It is in fact a "Door océane" by the presence of its three ports (of fishing, trade and yachting). City of strong commercial tradition, its port was active from its origins and knew an important development during the classic period, then in the contemporary period thanks to the port site of La Pallice which is the only deep water port of the French Atlantic coast and hoists it henceforth to the sixth national rank.
The city traces its origins back to the Gallo-Roman period attested by the remains of important salt marshes and villas. The Dukes of Aquitaine granted it a charter of free port in 1130. The opening of the English market following the second marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152, the presence of the Knights Templar and the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, quickly made this small town the largest port on the Atlantic.To this day city still possesses a rich historical, including its Saint-Nicholas tower, and urban heritage. The capital of Aunis has become the most important coastal city between the Loire and Gironde estuaries. Its urban activities are multiple and strongly differentiated. A city with port and industrial functions that are still important, it has a predominantly administrative and tertiary sector that is reinforced by its university and a rapidly developing tourism industry. In the recent years, the city has consistently been ranked among France's most liveable cities
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