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Trip Report 4 days in Saintes

Aberdeen
Level Contributor
43 posts
52 reviews
Trip Report 4 days in Saintes

After careful research on Trip Advisor we decided that Saintes was to be our next destination. After fun and games buying a train ticket, (we couldnt figure out the machine and had to use my dreadful french to buy one from the office, thank you nice patient lady at La Rochelle train station :) ) We had breakfast at the little cafe opposite the station, good coffee and sandwiches. We boarded the train for our short journey to Saintes, and arrived at this lovely town on the river Charentes.

We had booked a hotel in the old town, and it was about a 20 minute walk. We were quite early so just dropped off our bags before going to explore. The "Centre Ancien" is just lovely, narrow cobbled streets, no cars, cafes and shops and beautiful old buildings. It felt a lot quieter than La Rochelle, less touristy, but still lots to see and do. We also noticed cafe and restaurant prices were lower too. We had a yummy Galette (savoury pancake) and salad for lunch next door to the hotel before checking in and having a shower.

As it was quite hot we waited until late afternoon to climb the hill up to the Ampitheatre, well worth the climb :) Amazing to think it has stood for so many years.

7 replies to this topic
Aberdeen
Level Contributor
43 posts
52 reviews
1. Re: Trip Report 4 days in Saintes

The following morning, after a really good breakfast at the hotel, we went to the Abbaye aux Dames. The church itself is fabulous, peaceful and serene, with gorgeous communally made tapestries telling the Creation story. (The entance cost is just 3 euros, 2 if you get the little booklet as we did from the Arenas the previous day)

The Abbaye itself is now a Music conservatiore, and would have perfect accoustics for a concert if you ever get the chance. Each of the Nun's cells is a music tuition space, met a couple of small boys carrying violins rushing for lessons :)

The visit was really good, with some information in English. There are information boards about the building, as a scale model showing how it has changed over time. We went right up into the tower, right above the high nave of the church below, just stunning :))) Lovely views back accross the river to old Saintes.

Aberdeen
Level Contributor
43 posts
52 reviews
2. Re: Trip Report 4 days in Saintes

By the time we left it was getting very hot so we had a quick trip to the market for picnic supplies and then we sat on the backs of the river eating our picnic. This is a popular place for lunch, we saw students, families and workmen in their van, all sat enjoying the food and the view back across the river to old Saintes.

Later on, when it had cooled down slightly, we took a trip along the Charentes on a boat, it cost 13 euros for about 2 hours. We had hit "pensioners day out" or something so it was a bit busy going out, but they got off half way so it was much quieter coming back! They all seemed to know each other, lots of laughter and joking, not that we could undertand much of it!

Dinner in the old town and half bottle of wine each ended a lovely day. :)

Aberdeen
Level Contributor
43 posts
52 reviews
3. Re: Trip Report 4 days in Saintes

On our third day in Saintes we walked up the hill to the St Eutropius Cathedral. We left early but it was quite hot even at 10 am, so were were glad to enter the cool dark crypt underneath the main church. St Eutropius has a double alter, one on top of the other, this is quite an unusual feature and was so the monks could pray to the holy remains of the saint in private. . It is also on the Santiago Compostella pilgrim route, marked by the scallop shell symbol.

After another afternoon lazing by the river under a tree with a picnic, we went to the Stonehenge exhibition. (Saintes is twinned with Salisbury) and the next door Musee Archeologie. This was very interesting as Saintes has lots of roman sites, it was on the main wine route from Lyon to Bordeaux, and has the Arc Germanicus outside the building, which used to be on the bridge in Roman times. We saw roman wine urns, dice, glass, even make up bottles, and a beautiful mosaic floor, all housed in the old slaughter house which is an interesting building in its own right.

Our evening meal that night was a picnic at perhaps our favorite spot. Up high above the town there is the Old Governers house, that was also used as a hospital, and the front of which is now planted out with seats and wildflowers, and fabulous views. There were several other groups with similar ideas, students, kids on bikes and families. Lovely to see people enjoying such a pretty spot.

Aberdeen
Level Contributor
43 posts
52 reviews
4. Re: Trip Report 4 days in Saintes

Our fourth day in Saintes we took the train to Cognac, a lovely little town, where we went to the market, the park and then the Baron Otard distillery tour, which has the advantage of also being in a castle! We were feeling the heat by now, it was about 30 degrees. Our guide in her jumper and boots informed us the cellars were very cold, kept at around 16 degrees!!! Like a scottish summer really!

Cognac is easily reachable from Saintes, about 30 minutes by train, about 5 euros each way.

We were also a bit late getting out for dinner this night, and found most places closing up by 8.30. This was quite different to la Rochelle, so somthing to bear in mind. But we had a good meal in the end, on our last night in Saintes before moving up into Brittany to Nantes.

Edited: 21 June 2013, 17:45
Perpignan, France
Level Contributor
7,306 posts
103 reviews
5. Re: Trip Report 4 days in Saintes

Thank you for your trip report and congratulations for chosing such an "exotic" location.... IMO as interesting as the "Tourist Triangle" Cote d'Azur/Dordogne/Loire Valley. and which gave you a glimpse of what "real France" is about. :-))

Le Bugue, France
Level Contributor
14,097 posts
4 reviews
6. Re: Trip Report 4 days in Saintes

Thanks for this. I have been to and through Saintes a few times and completely agree that it is more interesting than La Rochelle in many ways. I don't think many people make it to Saintes, which can be a good thing. Nice descriptive report,.

Aberdeen
Level Contributor
43 posts
52 reviews
7. Re: Trip Report 4 days in Saintes

Thank you both for your comments. It was thanks to Trip Advisor that we visited Saintes, and hope my report helps others to discover this lovely part of France.

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