As a port city, La Rochelle always had wealth. In fact, there's plenty of medieval bling to be seen on the houses. There are gargoyle downspouts (usually only seen on churches elsewhere). There are special half-timbered houses, with the timbers covered by slate to protect them from the salt air. There are stone carvings everywhere, including New World Indians (or what the carvers thought they looked like, which is even more interesting) and quite a few buxom women. It's like a treasure hunt as you walk around the Old Town.