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VELUX 5 OCEANS to start and finish in La Rochelle

A defiant past, innovative present in urban ecology and wilful character have earned this "city of towers" its reputation as both a beauty and a rebel.

La Rochelle, an Atlantic port since the 10th century, exerts magnetic pull on visitors and makes them want to stay. Its urban fabric harmoniously blends medieval arcade-lined streets, 18th-century mansions, Belle Epoque villas and contemporary architecture.

The city is also known for its pleasant climate, where the sun shines about as often as on the French Riviera. It is full of vitality, with something always going on and an agenda punctuated by festivals and important cultural, sporting or economic events.

Above all others, sailors prize this city, which in just decades has cemented its status as the sailing capital of France's Atlantic seaboard.

  • Protected by Ré and Oléron islands, the vast expanse of water lying before La Rochelle is ideal for regattas. Wind conditions are steady, and tacticians appreciate the complex, challenging currents.
  • With a berthing capacity of 3,600, La Rochelle's yacht harbour ranks among the biggest in Europe. An extension planned for 2011 will increase capacity by 1,000 berths. In this city, where the environment is a top priority, the yacht harbour complies with every requirement in the ISO 14001 standard.
  • Each year, La Rochelle's own Grand Pavois international in-the-water boat show welcomes more than 100,000 visitors and 800 exhibitors.
  • The marine industry is well represented in La Rochelle, at once by global leaders in their speciality such as catamaran builder Fountaine Pajot and by smaller shipyards building custom boats for their clients. It spans every area of yachting expertise, from ship chandlers and sail makers to highly specialised marine meteorologists who train the future champions of offshore racing.
  • In addition to these strengths, La Rochelle has extensive experience in hosting yachting events, which are organised jointly by the Urban Community of La Rochelle and Grand Pavois Organisation. They know they can count on the local population's enthusiasm when it comes to celebrating the sailing planet's men and women.
  • In fact, excitement is already building for the departure of the Velux 5 Oceans race on 17 October 2010 and will reach a high pitch as the challengers circumnavigate the globe and sprint to the finish line in May 2011. Sustainability and protection of the oceans are at the core of the race. Those same values are shared by La Rochelle, a city renowned as a pioneer in urban ecology, the first in France to introduce bikes in a public transport system (back in 1976) and initiator of a "car-free day" operation which has since circled the world. La Rochelle actively supports renewable energy, clean mobility and waste recycling – commitments echoed by the Velux 5 Oceans management team in their "taking on the elements" concept.
La Rochelle by night