La Rochelle 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-long bridge completed on 19 May 1988. Since the Middle-Ages the harbour has opened onto a protected strait, the Pertuis d'Antioche and is regarded as a "Door océane" or gateway to the ocean because of the presence of its three ports. The city has a strong commercial tradition, having an active port from very early on in its history. La Rochelle underwent sustained development in the middle ages, and has maintained a standing in modern times because of its port, La Pallice, the only deep water port of the French Atlantic coast; it is ranked as the sixth most important port of France.