St. Nicholas & Lantern Towers

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Tour St-Nicolas, once a formidable military building, symbolises the power and wealth of La Rochelle at the height of its powers.
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  1. #FR33
  2. Rue de l'Armide, 17000 La Rochelle, France
  3. +33546417413
  5. Working hours*:
    10:00 - 13:00
    14:15 - 17:30
  6. * - opening and closing times as well as entrance prices, are subject to alterations without notice. Visitors are advised to check before visiting.
  7. 46.1558497, -1.1532651 Copy to clipboard Copy
    #Family time , #Towers


A centre of maritime trade. The town’s development started in the 11th century and was assured from the 14th century on by the protection afforded by the towers. The Saint Nicolas and Chaîne towers were particularly important, as they controlled entry to the port by the many trading ships.

Prison towers. All three towers in La Rochelle were designed to be lived in, but from the 16th to the 18th centuries two of them (namely the Saint Nicolas and Chaîne towers) were also used as prisons for Huguenots and foreign sailors. They were then used as military prisons in the 19th century. The Lanterne tower was used to disarm boats before they came into port and served as a lighthouse.

A few steps along Rue sur les Mars from Tour de la Chaîne is the newest of La Rochelle’s three towers.

This one is from the 15th century and as much as serving a defensive purpose it was built to look good: A decorative octagonal spire crowns an older and more austere circular base.

The fourth level of the tower was a prison from the 17th to the 19th century, and could accommodate more than 100 captives.

Even now you can make out the graffiti that these Spanish, French English and Dutch inmates etched into the walls.

And at the top is an outdoor gallery 38 metres above the ground and with panoramas of the old town and harbour.


Following the terror attacks in Paris on Friday, november 13, 2015 and to ensure the safety of our visitors, the monument is strictly applying the security measures decided by the french authorities.

The monument is fully opened.

It is strongly recommended not to bring suitcases and luggage to the monument. Only luggage not exceeding 40 x 40 x 20cm will be acceptedLuggage and big items are not allowed.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience and delay which may be caused by the extra security checks at the entrance.

Last Updated: 28 January, 2022