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Saintes & its surroundings
Saintes : Remains of a Gallo-Roman city
In the Gallic era, Saintes was a territory on which lived a Gallic people called Santons and on which Mediolanum developed. This city built on the banks of the Charente is at the end of the Agrippa road that connected Lyon to Aquitania. The development of the city reflects the exchange of lifestyles between Gauls and Romans. Mediolanum is the first historic capital of Gaul Aquitaine, one of the three great regions of Gaul conquered by Caesar. Some buildings still preserved, such as the Gallo-Roman Amphitheater, the Germanicus arch and the remains of the Thermes de Saint Saloine, the ramparts and the aqueduct, are among the main witnesses of Gallo-Roman antiquity in western France.
Magnificient religious edifices
The Church of St. Eutrope, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is nestled on the heights of the city and is a jewel of Saintongeais Romanesque art. Welcoming and mysterious, it is consecrated to the 11th century by the pope and is dedicated to Europe, the first evangelizer of Saintonge. In its crypt, one of the largest in Europe, the enveloping and mysterious atmosphere invites us to meditation and spirituality! It is an essential stop on the Way of Saint-Jacques de Compostela.
The majestic Cathedral of Saint Pierre build in the 15th century is the heart of the historic center of Saintes, astonishes by its massive and imposing bell tower. It is full of architectural contrasts, especially due to its bell tower and the subtlety of its sculpted portal where the stone resembles refined lace. Its unfinished bell tower, victim of the clashes of history, is covered with a metal dome.
The Abbey of the Ladies, the cultural center of the department is an ancient Benedictine abbey with Romanesque architecture and was the first monastery of women in Saintonge. The Abbey of the Ladies is built around the church of Saint Mary, built in the 12th century. Famous for its facade and its characteristic bell tower "on pine cone", it is one of the emblematic monuments of the Saintonge novel. Restored in the 1970s and 1980s after several fires and wars, this place of spirituality has been converted into a cultural center, a place of creation, training and spectacle.
The castle of La Roche Courbon, located in the commune of Saint Porchaire and built in the 15th century as a fortified castle, was transformed into a residence of pleasure in the 17th century by the Marquis Jean-Louis de Courbon. Still living today, it can be visited all year round (free or guided tour). We have a thing for the castle game "La Chambre du Marquis" and "La Tour du Temps", escape games for a complete immersion in the chateau life to share with friends or family. From May to October, an extension of the visit with the cave route: walk in the middle of a wild and preserved nature to approach the evolution of man to prehistory (caves, reconstructed camps, botanical path...)
The castle of Panloy located on the edge of Charente in Port d'Envaux, is an authentic construction of the time of Louis XV. Indoor visit, gardens, stables, chapel, dovecote... This site to discover with the family thanks to a treasure hunt and large playground in a nature trail with animals, will delight young and old.
The castle of Crazannes, nicknamed the Château du Chat Botté, is one of the oldest castles in Charente-Maritime. Built in the 14th century on the site of an ancient feudal castle, it has been completely restored and arranged to offer us a unique visit in the heart of a park of 8 hectares. The Romanesque chapel, the dungeon, the moat, the dovecote, and the museum of ancient rural objects contribute to the charm of this preserved environment. The Black Prince and François 1st stayed at the castle.
Fontdouce Abbey, located in Bris-sous-bois, combines Romanesque and Gothic art. This family-oriented site offers games of tracks by age group, workshops, animations and even a treetop adventure course.
River rides on the Charente
Rentals of electric boats without a license, canoes... Commented walks in Gabare or Electro-solar boat, there are many ways of discovering the Charente River in its surroundings. Discover the territory in a different way by taking the waterways.
Paleosite immerses you in Prehistory
This museum space coupled with an interpretation center located in Saint-Césaire (10 km from Saintes), close to the archeological site of La Roche à Pierrot where a Neanderthal skeleton was discovered in 1979 named "Pierrette", transports you into the daily life of the Man of Neanderthal. A family visit with visits to the archeological site, theaters, exhibitions, and reconstructions of impressive animals. Paleo site is also a prehistoric activity: booster fire, flint-size, fire-lighting, rock painting, archeological excavations…
Halt at Pons
A Pons, on retrouve deux sites remarquables à visiter si vous êtes dans la région : le château des Enigmes et l’hôpital des Pèlerins. Ce dernier est l’ultime témoin de ces ensembles hospitaliers médiévaux qui hébergeaient les pauvres et les malades. Il était aussi un lieu de repos offert aux voyageurs désargentés parmi lesquels les pèlerins en route vers Saint Jacques de Compostelle. Un magnifique jardin médicinal de 3000 m2 complète l’ensemble.
Le château d’Usson, aujourd’hui devenu le parc à thème le Château des énigmes vous offre une visite découverte ludique pour petits et grands. Partez avec Willy à la recherche du trésor du célèbre Jack Rackman grâce au parcours de 27 jeux-aventures. Un jeu de piste grandeur nature dans le grand parc boisé et dans les plus belles salles du château qui fera la joie de toute la famille.
On the vineyard side
The Ecomusée du Cognac, located at the Tesseron estate in Migron, allows you to learn everything about this eau-de-vie known and appreciated worldwide. You will be welcomed by the winemaker in a 19th century wine estate with the program of the visit: museum of the winemaker, audiovisual show, organ of perfumes, tasting of Cognac but also of Pineau des Charentes.
The enchanted Cep, or how to discover the vine differently with a playful route to know everything about the vine culture and the legends of Pineau des Charentes & Cognac. This Macqueville wine theme park located in is above all a family estate of seven generations that values its local products in a different way. Tasting and sale on site.
To discover the vineyards of Charente, many farms open their doors to you throughout the territory, do not hesitate to stop to see them!