Top 10 things to do in Saintes

Saintes
Top 10 things to do i ...

Saintes is the former Gallo-Roman capital of Saintonge. It is a favorite site for history lovers. It has been able to preserve its heritage over the centuries and has also been classified as a "City of Art and History". Thus you will appreciate the paleosite, the Roman amphitheatres, the emblematic religious monuments of the Camino de Santiago, and even a beautiful Renaissance palace. We offer you a Top 10 of the best things to do in Saintes, from the most classic to the most unusual.


Opening photo: The city of Saintes / Photo © AdobeStock_JackF-Saintes

1) Find the traces of our most distant ancestors

Saintonge and in particular the Charente Valley have been occupied since prehistoric times. Many traces of our ancestors have been found there and to enhance this exceptional prehistoric site, the largest interpretation center in Europe has been set up there. The Paléosite allows you to experience prehistoric life, during workshops, activities and virtual reality screenings.

Find out more: The Paleosite


The Paleosite © Photo of the Paleosite
The Paleosite © Photo of the Paleosite

2) Go back in time in the Gallo-Roman Saintes

Then the "Santons" settled there. Quickly joined by the Romans, who founded Mediolanum Santonum. This Gallo-Roman civilization has left many vestiges in Saintes. They have gone through the ages and have been preserved. You will be able to admire:

  • The Amphitheater
  • The thermal baths of Saint-Saloine
  • The collections of the Archaeological Museum of Saintes

Find out more: The Saintes amphitheater (fr)


Saintes amphitheater © Guide Charente Maritime
Saintes amphitheater © Guide Charente Maritime

3) Live the Middle Ages on the Ways of Santiago de Compostela in Saintes

Saintes is an important stage on the Ways of Santiago de Compostela. You will therefore visit several religious monuments from medieval times, including:

  • St. Peter's Cathedral
  • The Ladies' Abbey
  • The Basilica of Saint-Eutrope
  • The Jacobin Convent

If you are interested in the subject, do not miss to learn more about it at the Musée de l'Échevinage, which presents, among other things, beautiful pieces from the 15th century and to stroll through the historic town center of Saintes, with its houses in half-timbered.


Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Saintes © Photo Jack F AdobeStock
Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Saintes © Photo Jack F AdobeStock

4) Visit a Saintonge Renaissance Castle

In the town center of Sainte, the Renaissance is fairly well represented with fine mansions from the 16th and 17th centuries. On leaving the town, stop at the Château de la Roche-Courbon. It has been completely restored, in a "Renaissance" style. The decorated interiors are splendid. The gardens, inspired by those of Versailles, are absolutely beautiful. An escape-game is offered to you to discover the castle in a more unusual way.

Find out more: Chateau de la Roche-Courbon (fr)


The Château de la Roche Courbon © Photo by Picture Reflex AdobeStock
The Château de la Roche Courbon © Photo by Picture Reflex AdobeStock

5) Discover Saintes in modern times in the Dupuy Mestreau Museum

In the 18th century, the town of Saintes was modernized and redeveloped. It was at this time that the Hôtel Particulier was built to house the services of the Prefecture. The Dupuy Mestreau Museum naturally welcomes collections of local works of art from the 19th and 20th centuries, found by this great collector, passionate about the region.

6) Take part in an “active tour” of Saintes

The “Visit'actives are unusual outings and workshops. They allow you to meet local producers, to learn during workshops and to immerse yourself in the culture and know-how of Saintonge. It is an association involved in sustainable development and eco-awareness that organizes them.


7) Taste Saintonge specialties, between land and sea

To taste Saintonge gastronomy, in a "bistro" atmosphere, we recommend a restaurant that is part of tradition, with a hint of originality: Restaurant l'Iode. The chef gives pride of place to local products and local cuisine, in a trend imbued with modernity, the "bistronomic".

Find out more: Read our article on local products to discover in Charente-Maritime!


A burst of mussels, yum! © Photo Lesley Williamson
A burst of mussels, yum! © Photo Lesley Williamson

8) Take a nature outing in the Charente Valley

Saintes revolves around a meander of the Charente. The city is located in the heart of the Charente Valley, classified "Natura 2000" to protect rare natural species, such as the otter, the mink and the turtle Cistude. As soon as you leave the city, you will appreciate the natural spaces on the banks of the Charente.

Find out more: The Charente Valley


9) Hike around Saintes, in the Val de Saintonge

To hike in the Val de Saintonge, we advise you to take the Chemins de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. The GR655 has been laid out to facilitate your access. The tourist office also offers different routes, by theme, by level or geographical area and will be able to advise you on finding the hike that meets your desires.

Saint-Jacques de Compostelle


10) Pedaling on the Flow bike

For cyclists, the nicest route in Saintonge is the “ Flow vélo”. It crosses it between Saintes and Saint-Savinien, over 25 km. The route is very pleasant because it follows the banks of the Charente. It is easily accessible for families with children.

We hope that this Top 10 has made you want to visit Saintes and Saintonge during your next vacation in Charente-Maritime.


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