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La Rochelle is a medium-sized city (163 000 inhabitants for the metropolitan area) which lies on the west coast of France in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. The islands of Ré and Oléron are on its doorstep. La Rochelle’s historical heritage and the strong links with the sea make the city one of France's most popular destinations for tourism. Events of international importance – such as the Francofolies, the Grand Pavois (first European in-water Boat Show), the TV Fiction Festival or the International Film Festival – draw an increasingly cosmopolitan audience.
Long before speaking about sustainable development, La Rochelle has been from the 1970’s on the forefront of “urban ecology”: from the first town centre pedestrian area in France (1973) to the first car-free day (1997), not to forget the first public bike loan system in France (1976).
Since the beginning of the 1990’s, La Rochelle has developed a strong policy commitment in favour of clean transport modes, notably electric, fully integrated in the Public Transport scheme. La Rochelle has long been involved in transnational cooperation projects related to the implementation of innovative urban mobility actions. The perpetuation of these actions and the implementation of new ones (such as automated vehicles) are concrete outputs of the transnational cooperations in which La Rochelle Urban Community is involved.