The “rebel city” has a long time been the stronghold of Protestantism. Despite being besieged by the royal troops in 1627, La Rochelle has been very prosperous thanks to maritime trade with the New World. The city opened up new horizons, and intellectual and artistic influences gained strength in the 18th century. La Rochelle has beautifully maintained its past architecture, making it one of the most picturesque and historically rich cities on the Atlantic coast. There are also several islands to be explored, such as Ile d’Aix and Oléron, reachable by boat from the old harbour or the beautiful Ré Island linked by a bridge. Several great developments have emerged over the past few years. La Rochelle is home to the largest European marina for pleasure boats on the Atlantic coast. There is also a multidisciplinary university, renowned for its teaching of marine biology.