La Rochelle is a coastal city in southwestern France and capital of the Charente-Maritime department. It's been a center for fishing and trade since the 12th century, a maritime tradition that's reflected in its Vieux Port (old harbor) and huge, modern Les Minimes marina. The old town has half-timbered medieval houses and Renaissance architecture, including passageways covered by 17th-century arches.
France, in Western Europe, encompasses medieval cities, alpine villages and Mediterranean beaches. Paris, its capital, is famed for its fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. The country is also renowned for its wines and sophisticated cuisine. Lascaux?s ancient cave drawings, Lyon?s Roman theater and the vast Palace of Versailles attest to its rich history.