The town of SAINTES 

and arround

is on one of the pillgrin walkway to "Saint Jacques de Compostelle" :

City more than 2000 years old, Saintes was

the capital of the Gallic people named: the “Santones”,

and Roman province of Aquitaine, under the name of MEDIOLANUM SANTORUM

Christianized very early, it becomes a town dedicated mainly to the religion. Saintes is endowed in the Middle Age of conventual establishments among which the Saint-Eutrope convent, a main halt on St - Jacques de Compostelle's road, and also the prestigious Abbey-aux-Dames. City border during the One hundred years war, freed by Duguesclin, it will undergo the devastation of the religious wars before knowing a more prosperous period during XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries On the eve of the Revolution, the modern town planning upsets the city by the creation of main trunk roads and in XIXth s the railway and its workshops, implanted in the suburb, offers a development in the right side.

Today, city of culture and tourism. Saintes offer its rich patrimony to the guests who come to enjoy the incomparable atmosphere of the Atlantic coast.



the Irst-century amphitheatre and the St EUTROPE church.

The Irst-century amphiteatre
Built under Claude's administration towards 40 after JC, it is characterized by a cavea (successions of terraces) perched on the valley. .

In the East, the completely built structures close the valley.

Dimensions: 126 on 102 m. It could received approximately 15 000 spectators.

Closed on monday.

Raised in 18-19 after JC at the entrance of a bridge, it had a function of door of the city when arriving from the main Roman way coming from Lyon.

On the attique, is registered a dedication to the emperor Tibère and his nephews Germanicus and Drusus. On the entablement is represented the genealogy of the santones donor Caïus Julius Rufus.

Saved in 1843 by Prosper Mérimée during the destruction of the bridge,it was unsettled and reconstructed on the right side.

REMPARTS (Place des Récollets)
The excavations in 1975 brought to light a part of the outer wall built at the beginning of the IVth century with stones of the antique buildings.

Dated the second half of the 1rst century, the baths have been built in the second phase of extension of the antique city. Vestiges allowed to recognize partially the sector of the caldarium.


The museum of SAINTES

The PRESIDIAL museum 28, rue Victor Hugo

Paintings of the XVth in the XVIIIth century: Flemish, Dutch and French schools. Saintongeaises ceramic.

Echevinage museum. 29 ter, rue Alsace-Lorraine Tél. 05 46 93 52 39

Paintings of the XIXth and XXth centuries, collection of Sèvres china, temporary exhibitions.

Numerous and rich collections of regional art: Signboards, earthenwares, carvings, paintings, jewels, suits, headgears...
4, rue Montconseil - Tél. 05 46 93 36 71
From tuesday to Sunday: from 2pm to 4 30 ; last visit: 16 h 30.

The ARCHEOLOGIcal museum.
Museum of the gallo-Roman civilization including remarkable lapidary series: public architecture and funeral, inscriptions, sculptures... The copy and the elements of a car of the 1rst century constitute a unique piece in Europe.

Esplanade André Malraux - Tél. 05 46 74 20 97

The museums are closed on Monday. Pass for the 4 museums





Streets & houses of SAINTES
The houses of the historic centre -by the quality of the limestone and their decoration -participate in the charm and in the atmosphere so particular of Saintes.
The most prestigious houses date XVIIth and XVIIIth s :
the hotel " Présidial " raised by 1605 (museum of the Fine art),
The lodging house of the governor (belvedere of the hospital),
Brémont d'Ars's hotel (street of the Jacobins),
the hotel of Montconseil (presently Dupuy-Mestreau museum) built in 1738 on the quays of the Charente,
The Viaud hotel (rue des Jacobins).
In the XIXth century, rich traders of Cognac make build beautiful particular hotels:

the villa Musso (presently Office of Tourism),
the Rouyer-Guillet hotel which overhangs the Charente river(quay of Yser).

The national stud farm of Saintes

On a ten hectare surface, SAINTES's national stud farm has for objective to protect and to immortalize regional races such as Saddles French, the French trotter and the donkey of Poitou. Other noble races as English pur-sang and English-Arabic are to be seen in its typical buildings of the Second Empire.

Near Saintes

Nieul-lès-Saintes 's Castle
at Nieul-lès-Saintes ( 8 km from Saintes)
Built in 14th century according to Jean Chaudrier's wishes, then mayor of La Rochelle, the castle of Nieul-lès-Saintes is restored today by the owner. The defensive vocation of this castle takes then all its plenitude with towers, outbuildings, subterranean rooms...
(see the chateau de Nieuil-les-saintes in Belle Saintonge main page)

The romanesque church of Nieuil-les-Saintes

(See Nieuil-les-saintes in the romanesque art in Saintonge)

Le castle of Panloy
at Port-d'Envaux (10 Km from Saintes)

Do not miss the dressed up festivities organized inside the castel by Mr the marquess!

(See ' la bugée au Chateau' in Belle Saintonge)

Built in 18th century, the castle of Panloy shows two of the Renaissance pavillons of the ancient building. The inside, as the outside of the domain is admirable by the disposition and the style. stables and dovecote are typical realizations of the animal architecture. The inside shows treasures such as the woodwork of its dining room

The stones quary museum of Crazannes .
at Port-d'Envaux ( 10 Km from Saintes)
To compensate the lock of the stones quaries of Crazannes, a museum of quary skills and  technics was created to present how were extracted and transported these stones, 

the material constituting most of local churches and as well as the pedestal of the Freedom statue of NY.

(See 'les carrières de CRAZANNES' in Belle Saintonge)
The Fontdouce Abbaye
at Saint-Bris-des-Bois (12 Km from Saintes)
Erected in 12th century, the abbey of Fondouce, the name of which results from the spring water crossing towards one of the conventual buildings, begins its decline at the end of the religious wars and was sold during the french Revolution. Restored partially, we can admire the chapter room today where a profusion of columns supports finely decorated keystones. Of the church remain only some vestiges while the lower and the high chapels may be visited.

(See 'l'Abbaye de Fontdouce' in Belle Saintonge)

There are numerous romanesque churches arround SAINTES (La clisse, Ecurat, Le Douhet, Colombiers, Rioux, Rétaud ...)

Beautiful walks as the vestiges of the Roman aqueduct, the thermes of Vénerand in the North, the last boat using chains to cross a river at Chaniers in the South, the paléosite of Saint Césaire in the East, the peninsula of Arvert with its oysterfarms, swamps, beaches on the West are offered for visiting.


I wish you an nice trip !



Villa Musso, 62, cours National - BP 96 - 17103 Saintes Cedex Tél. 05 46 74 23 82 - Fax 05 46 92 17 01
OFFICE *** Open all year round

At your convinience, free: brochures and indications Brochures and indications on the residences, the restoration, the leisures and the cultural activities in the region.
The Office also proposes you conducted tours by foot, in bicycles, "Noctambulations" in evenings summer, river walks aboard a 'gabare'...


Back to 'Romanesque ART in Saintonge

The crypte or lower church


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