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A Roman town on the River Charente

The town of Saintes, in the Charente-Maritime department of western France, lies on the River Charente and is famous for its Roman remains. An attractive market town, Saintes has an historic and pretty centre, with narrow streets and intriguing old buildings. Saintes is fortunate in its geographic position, as not only does it lie in the lovely and richly productive countryside of the Charente-Maritime, but it is also just a stone's throw from the fabulous Atlantic coast and the islands or Île d'Oléron and Île de Ré.

Great historical interest

As well as its charm and lively modern lifestyle, Saintes has much to offer. Historically the town had great importance as an economic centre for the Romans, and there are many interesting sights remaining today relating to this time. The Amphitheatre, where gladiatorial contests were held, is fascinating, as is the lovely Arch of Germanicus. Saintes has several museums, and particularly worthy of a visit is the archaeological museum which houses an unusual collection of stone sculptures.

Spending time in Saintes…

Spending time in this fascinating town is a pleasure of which you will not quickly tire. Saintes has a colourful market, held twice a week, and in addition to this there is a great selection of shops where you can browse at will. For the evenings, there are many lively bars and some really superb restaurants. The seafood here is especially worth trying, as being close to the Atlantic coast the catch is fresh and the supply regular. Cognac and pineau are the locally produced drinks, so pour yourself a glass or two and relax!

Out and about

Even with its attractive town centre and proliferation of things to do and see, there may be times when you wish to leave the town to explore the wider region. There are many choices to make, as Saintes is located in the heart of an interesting and beautiful area. You could choose to travel up towards Poitiers, where you can visit the fascinating Futuroscope theme park, you could visit the brandy town of Cognac, or you could take the coast road and enjoy the glories of the Atlantic Ocean. The islands of Île d'Oléron and Île de Ré are both lovely and make a great day trip from Saintes, or there is the bustling town of La Rochelle.

Sporting instincts…

Those with a sporting instinct (or maybe just those who have over indulged on seafood and cognac and feel the need to work it off!) will be pleased to know that there are many varied sports on offer in and near to Saintes. The sea, of course, brings the possibilities of windsurfing, swimming, and sailing, and there is also a great golf course at Saintes, with a full eighteen holes in a very attractive setting.

How to get there

Reaching Saintes from the UK is simple and cost effective thanks to the budget airlines which fly into La Rochelle and Bordeaux. Train travel, via Eurostar, TGV and local train is also fast and inexpensive, although it does involve changing from Eurostar to a TGV, then to a local train. The TGV station is at Angoulême, from where you can switch to a local train that takes you to Saintes.

Property prices and availability in and around Saintes

Saintes and the Charente-Maritime are becoming more and more popular with foreign property investors and home seekers, so the best advice would be not too leave it too late before seeking your property if you have set your heart on Saintes. There are many lovely properties available in and close to the town, and at the moment prices remain reasonable, although they are steadily rising year by year.

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Saintes AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Saintes?

Saintes lies in western France, slightly in the east of the Charente-Maritime department, not far from the Atlantic coast.

Saintes Property Map

IN THE REGION OF POITOU-CHARENTES

Poitou-Charentes Guide

Poitou-Charentes Property Map

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF CHARENTE-MARITIME

Charente-Maritime Guide

  Charente-Maritime Map


Population: 27,500


Access: By air: Fly to La Rochelle with Ryanair, flybe or easyJet, or to Bordeaux with British Airways, flybe, bmibaby, Aer Lingus or easyJet. By rail: There is a TGV station at Angoulême, from where you can switch to a local train that takes you to Saintes.


Economy: The economy is based on a mixture of cognac and pineau production, agriculture and maritime industries. Tourism is also a significant factor.


Interesting fact: The town of Saintes is noted for its superb Roman remains. One of the most interesting of these is the fabulous amphitheatre, which was built for gladiatorial contests, and the remains are in good condition today.

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