Still in Saintes, or thereabouts … who knows …

We’re enjoying such gorgeous, summer-like days here in Charente-Maritime, it’s near impossible to sit and write. Also, writing coherently is impossible, because I’m still jet-lagged and tend to fall asleep, when I sit down … äh, where was I …

I do remember though, that we were in Royan yesterday, an attractive fishing town located a quick 25 minute drive from Saintes. Well, on a Monday morning for sure, but certainly not on the first spectacularly super sunny Sunday afternoon since Christmas. It was quite the clutch-foot-exercise to drive to the coast! 

Royan isn’t really a traditional fishing town. Ever since taking seaside vacations became a popular trent in the early 20th century, Royan has established itself as a beach town. Royan is located on the calcareous cliffs of the river Gironde Estuary, which were formed as a consequence of tectonic plate activity, when the Alp and Pyrenees mountain ranges pushed their peaks skyward. Royan’s position within the estuary and proximity to warm Atlantic currents creates a well loved Mediterranean micro-climate.

On the way home, we stopped at the flea market in the protective shadow of the remarkably squad and solid church of the village of Saint-Romain-de-Benet – just having fun, enjoying a leisurely day and feeling quite medievally. 

Today we stayed in town and walked and walked and walked till our feet fell off. Saintes has both a right and left bank presence along the river Charente. On the left bank, la rive gauche, a large conservation area of ancient monuments and edifices, as well as modern town activities, centers around the mighty Cathedral of Saint-Pierre. Another neighborhood clusters around the basilica of Saint-Eutrope, where we also find Les Arènes, a Roman amphitheater. Several more neighborhoods complete the large rive gauche area. Across the river, la rive droite, we find another hustling and bustling modern town. However, this was also the endpoint of the Roman road connecting the city of Lyon to Mediolanum Santonum, as the Romans used to call, what is now the city of Saintes. And in the year 18 CE, or possibly 19, a third generation Roman citizen of Gallic decent, Caius Julius Rufus, son of Caius Julius Otuaneunus, grandson of Caius Julius Gedemo, great-grandson of Epotsoviridius, sponsored the erection of an impressive, two-bay Roman arch in honor of Emperor Tiberius and his two adoptive sons, Drusus and Germanicus. This arch is now commonly known as the ‘Arch of Germanicus’ and still towers over the river – almost 2000 years later. 


Not everything in Saintes is extra large. One also finds numerous tiny lanes, or ‘ruelles’ between those ancient stone houses. This particular lane had a very romantic name: ‘Venelle du Crepuscule’ or The Twilight Alley.

We’re so fortunate to be here during Spring. So much glowing green and blooming trees everywhere makes you smile. There’re delicate blossoms on ancient trees … 
and strong, almost overwhelming blossoms, which stop you in your tracks.
Today is Monday, when many restaurants are traditionally closed. So we will be having dinner at our checkerboard kitchen table again. Naturally, we couldn’t come home without some lovely pastry for dessert.

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