Talmont is one of the most beautiful villages in France. There are four villages in Charente Maritime which qualify for this accolade. The others are Ars-en Re, La Flotte-en-Re and Mornac -sur-Seudre. I have yet to visit these gems but I have visited two of the other villages in Poitou-Charentes which qualify – Coulon in the Marais Poitevin and Angles-sur-Anglin in Vienne.
Talmont is very small. It is basically a chunk of rock sticking out into the Gironde estuary on which there is a church, a small village of houses, and a tiny harbour.
It all started in 1094 when the church dedicated to St. Radegonde was constructed. Rudegund, as she was originally called, was a German princess from 520 who ended up founding a nunnery in Poitiers. The church was one of the many stopping off points for pilgrims heading south to Santiago de Compostela in the middle ages. It is a typical Romanesque church with a three-arched doorway and lots of carvings in the stone work. With the passage of time and no doubt due also to its position on the very edge of the sea much of the stonework is now quite eroded . The church is a bit on the short and fat side but that is partly compensated by the fact that it is built on top of a cliff.
Subsequently Edward the 1st of England and Duke of Aquitaine developed a small village around the church. These new towns or Bastides as they were known were developed in the SW of France throughout the 11th and 12th centuries.
There are many different tourist outlets , restaurants and coffee/ice cream parlours in the village now. Local wine and Pineau are available along with lots of art/objets d’art outlets. One is Atelier Avenda – their website is http://www.avendaburnellwalsh.com/t
As you cross from the large car park towards the village there is a merry-go-round, which sounds a bit tacky but it is either a very old one or in the style of an old one so it is not out of keeping. The tiny harbour is really just a dyke with some pontoons and about 10 boats in it but is quite picturesque as it is also on the edge of the bay with fringing salt marshes. There are also some fishing pontoons called carrelets at points around the promontory all of which adds to the ambience of the village.
The village has lots of flowers, particularly Hollyhocks, but as we visited at the end of August they were past their best. Nonetheless there were plenty of flowers about and they all added to the charm of the village. I took a shot of some Clematis flowers which I think made an absolutely brilliant photo- I am normally very critical of my own efforts but I love this one.
Talmont certainly merits its tag as ‘One of the most beautiful villages in France’. For myself I would have prefered a little less commercialism, but I suppose with 500,000 visitors a year it is inevitable; at least I did not see any candy floss or donkey rides!
To see our posts on the other Most beautiful villages in France click here.