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Travel inland through beautiful countryside of sloping fields, vineyards and forests, outstanding Romanesque architecture, stately chateaux and charming villages to reach the town of Saintes...


Established by the Romans, Saintes was once the economic capital of the Charente-Maritime. Today it’s a pretty market town famed for its Roman ruins – and for being the birthplace of a certain Dr Guillotin!

The Arc de Germanicus was built in 19AD and dedicated to Emperor Tiberius, his son Drusu & nephew Germanicus. The arch originally stood on a stone bridge but was moved to the riverbank in 1843 when the bridge was demolished to make way for a replacement. Close to the Arc is an archaeological museum.

Les Arènes, a little way out of the town, are the remains of a huge amphitheatre. Built in 40AD, it once held 15,000 spectators and although the seats are now grassed over, you can still get a sense of how it once looked. The Thermes de Saint-Saloine are the excavated remains of early 4th century buildings thought to be part of a network of spas.


The 12th century Abbaye aux Dames church was part of a monastic collective founded for women a century or so earlier.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the 11th century Saint-Europe church was built by Benedictine monks and is effectively two churches, one above the other.

The 15th century spire was built with a donation from King Louis XI.

Location (Map)

Saintes, France

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