Head inland from Rochefort to visit some of the region's architectural jewels..
Saint Pierre d’Aulnay Church
One of the most magnificent Romanesque churches in France and now a UNESCO listed monument, this 12th century church is famed for its western and southern portal sculptures, among whose imagery are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Saintonge Sermon over the front entrance includes figures from daily life and the zodiac.
Abbaye Royale, Saint Jean d’Angély
The royal abbey has a gruesome history – it was founded when a head was brought from the Far East to the then Duke of Aquitaine. Today it’s a European Cultural centre and is open to the public.
North of Saint Jean d’Angély is the attractive town of Surgères. During the 19th century it was the capital of France’s dairy industry, & local butter is still considered among the best in the country. For an enjoyable walk, wander through the riverside park of walnut & chestnut trees which surround a medieval fortress with 20 round towers. Also here is the stately Romanesque church of Notre-Dame. At nearby Lozay is the Aire-Jardin de la Saintonge Romane (access via the A10 or the D107), an essential visit for lovers of Romanesque architecture, with reproductions of the most beautiful examples of the period. There’s also a lovely medieval herb garden.
Saint Jean d’Angély
rue de la Grosse Horloge, place du Pilori
+33 (0)5 46 32 04 72 http://ot.angely.net/english
5 rue Bersot
tel: +44 (0)5 46 01 12 10 www.aunis-maraispoitevin.com