Vainikolo scored 36 tries in 87 games for the Cherry and Whites following his switch from rugby league side Bradford Bulls in 2007 and represented England five times.
La Rochelle coach Fabrice Ribeyrolles said: "Lesley is the profile we are looking for. We have been thinking about strengthening our three-quarter line with a 'puncher' but we did not want to rush.
"Lesley brings many features, he has an impressive ability both offensively and defensively, he is very physically fit and able to join us immediately.
"He showed a real desire to come and play at La Rochelle."
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.