Very important in Gallo-Roman times, Saintes is a city with a very rich history of which we are fortunate to have many vestiges of past centuries scattered throughout it.
Here are the places that we recommend you visit, please check the opening hours on the sites of the addresses mentioned before any visit.
The Gallo Roman Amphitheater - 20 Rue Lacurie, 17100 Saintes
Completed around 40 AD and listed as a historical monument since 1840, the amphitheater of Mediolanum is one of the earliest in Gaul, its grandiose dimensions testifying to the power of the city in the 1st century. If at the time it was intended for bloody battles and to entertain the people, today it offers a very unique immersion some 2000 years earlier. From rue Lacurie an impressive view extends to the Church of Saint Eutrope and part of the city center, the atmosphere in the heart of the amphitheater is charged and almost mystical. Paid access.
The Arch of Germanicus - place Bassompierre, 17100 Saintes
Erected in the year 18 or 19, the Arch of Germanicus was built on the banks of the Charente to the glory of the Emperor Tiberius, his son Drusus and his adopted son Germanicus, and financed by a wealthy santon named Julius Rufus. It was initially a road arch built at the arrival of the Agrippa way (which linked Lyon to Saintes). The Arc now sits enthroned in the middle of a pedestrian square, pleasantly laid out for a quiet break by the river and facing the left bank of the city centre. Free tour.
The thermal baths of Saloine - 6 impasse des Thermes, 17100 Saintes
Remains of one of the many thermal establishments in the city. We still identify today the retaining walls of the caldarium (room of hot baths). Free tour.
The ancient aqueducts - at Le Douhet, Fontcouverte and Vénérand
At least three sources have been exploited to supply the ancient aqueducts of Saintes, all classified as historical monuments. The first dating between 20 and 10 BC, a 17km-long jewel of history built in the oldest Roman tunnel in all of Gaul. If the underground tunnels are not accessible to the public, the walk still allows you to walk along the emerged parts which are an incredible visit on their own. Free tour.
We invite you to consult the access maps to the various sites before your visit.
Saint Pierre Cathedral and its cloister - 2 Place Saint-Pierre, 17100 Saintes
"Eternally unfinished", Saint Pierre Cathedral with its astonishing domed metal bell tower has survived the centuries and many battles. As a nod to the coast, a paneled vault in the shape of an overturned ship's hull overlooks the choir. The ciborium, the chapels, certain vaulted ceilings covered with stars, are so many delights to accompany a moment of contemplation, sometimes even to the sound of the organ.
A cloister is freely accessible to the right of the cathedral.
The crypt of the Church of Saint Eutrope - 56 Rue Saint-Eutrope, 17100 Saintes
Dating from the 17th century, the crypt located under the Sainte Eutrope church is one of the most beautiful in France, the Romanesque atmosphere is very captivating. Free entrance from outside the basilica.
The Ladies' Abbey - 11 Place de l'Abbaye 17100 Saintes
A former Benedictine abbey created in 1047 and placed under the protection of the King of France in 1378, the Abbaye aux Dames became over time one of the most powerful women's monasteries in the entire southwest. Famous for its "pinecone" bell tower, this architectural ensemble imbued with spirituality, pedestrian today, has become a cultural center and the seat of the musical conservatory. The tourist office located there offers very good quality audio guided tours giving access to the interior of the Abbey and its bell tower.
Hotel rooms are also spread over one of the floors of the building.
Classical concerts are held there every summer and regularly throughout the year.
The mosaic of the library - rue des Jacobins 17100 Saintes
A small gift, this bed of eternal mosaic flowers at the rue des Jacobins entrance to the library. It is only visible when the library is open, but here is one more delight, quite simple, which delights the eyes... The small interior garden to which it leads is just as charming for a quiet break.
Sculptor's workshop, former Jacobin convent - rue des Jacobins, 17100 Saintes
Another little gift if you hit the right day at the right time, a game of chance... The stone sculptors' workshop is set up in the former Jacobin convent, a building perfectly chosen to house this age-old art, sometimes the doors are open and the public invited to pass between the tables to admire, in peace, the work of the artists.