Saintes is in the south of the French department of Charente-Maritime, a region originally called and still refered to as Saintonge. It is a town of history, art and culture. Saintes has over 2,000 years of history. The origins of the town lie in Celtic times when a small settlement was created by the Santon tribe – which is what gave rise to the name of Saintonge.
In the first century BC the Romans conquered much of France and established their regional capital, Mediolanum, on the site of modern-day Saintes. They choose this site because it was the ‘crossroads’ where the major Roman route from Lyon to Aquitaine crossed the Charente river. During Roman times the town became very prosperous and one can still see remnants of this in the Arch of Germanicus and what remains of the Amphitheatre and the thermal baths.
Christianity came early to Saintes and the town boasts many magnificent religious buildings such as the Abbaye aux Dames, the Eglise St Eutrope and St Pierre Cathedral. The town enjoyed considerable prosperity during 17th to 19th centuries as an administrative and commercial centre latterly because of it’s position on the rail line from Paris to Bordeaux. During this time many very attractive merchan’ts houses and other buildings were erected along the bank of the river Charente.
Today the town retains it’s rich history and is a world famous centre for art and culture.The town boasts many interesting looking restaurants and lots of shops including a branch of the famous Paris store Lafayette
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