June 6, 2010

Saintes - June 5

Our visit to Saintes started off well with a visit to Leonidas, one of the best chocolate makers in the world (in our opinion at least).  We originally tasted these delicious chocolates when we were in Brussels many years ago visiting my sister Val.

Saintes, capital of the Saintonge region, has an extraordinarily rich architectural heritage. 

For centuries it boasted the only bridge over the lower Charente, well used by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. 

The Roman bridge no longer exists but you can still admire the magnificent Arch of Germanicus (AD 19) which used to mark its entrance.

The Roman amphitheater dates from the 1st century.  We saw a more complete amphitheatre in Nîmes last year, but this site of ruins gives us a much better understanding of the construction methods used by the Romans.  We lucked out in that June 5th was Archeology Appreciation Day so we entered the museum for free, but we would have gladly paid to visit this place!

The "vomitorium".  No, not a place to vomit, but a passage where many people go through at once.

What about a view from the gladiator's perspective.

In the background you can see the rather unknown gem, Eglise St-Eutrope. 

 In the 15th century, this church had the misfortune to effect a miraculous cure of the dropsy on Louis XI. 

 In a paroxysm of gratitude, he did his best to wreck it with ill-considered Gothic additions.  Luckily, its rare Romanesque capitals have survived.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! What stunning pictures and description of such rich history... love it!