A multi-faceted village between stone and water
Once one of the principal ports of the Charente, where ocean-going sailing ships met with merchandise-carrying barges, Saint-Savinien-sur-Charente is now one of the most picturesque Petites Cités de Caractère® in Saintonge, proudly dominating the river.
A village of Stones and Water
Peaceably set in a meander of “the most beautiful stream in my kingdom” according to François I, the village invites you for a stroll between stone and water; quaysides, gardens, ancient streets and narrow lanes, quarries, houses sheltered by great limestone rocks … The promontory, in the heart of a history-packed heritage, offers unmissable views of the town, the leisure base, the reddish tiles blending with blond stonework, the lazy curves of the Charente and the majestic presence of the carrelets – fishing shacks on stilts.
A village of artists … and freshwater sailors!
It’s easy to believe that this décor, bathed by a soft light, fosters the creative impulse, that these places offer so much to an artist whether amateur or professional. There are many painters, sculptors and craftspeople in Saint-Savinien-sur-Charente who throw open the doors of their workshops, galleries and pop-ups to share their world and their passions. The “Cargo Bleu” is a centre for an artists’ cooperative and is a point of exchange and meeting place for local artists to show and sell their work. The village has gained the label of “Ville et Métiers d’Art” and is oriented towards a rich and varied palette of artistic sensibility.
Opposite the town is a shady park by the banks of the Charente, l’Île de la Grenouillette, a perfect spot for families to enjoy a moment of leisure, a picnic, a visit to the Miniature Port, a stroll, fishing or a stopover on the Flow Vélo® cyclists’ itinerary. Hire a no-licence-required boat from the jetty for a cruise – an original way to admire the wealth of architectural heritage the town has to offer and the flora and fauna from the riverbanks.
Ports of call along the Charente
Agonnay, a village that is part of Saint-Savinien-sur-Charente has an 18th century château and legends tell of the “Creux de la Louve”, a cave that sheltered wolves. The “Chaumes de Sèchebec”, a natural area with flora that call to mind the garrigue of Provence, is open to nature-lovers; don’t miss the orchids and butterflies.
At Coulonge-sur-Charente, a village also part of Saint-Savinien-sur-Charente there are long walks to be made by the lake, across fields and marshes. Don’t miss the Romanesque church and château as well as a former grain mill powered by the water of the Bramerit.
The “Maison du Chat Bleu”, in the hamlet of Garlopeaux, is a base for cultural development in the rural community. Here, the public can exchange with poets, singers, musicians, actors, whether experienced or beginners.
Close by, stroll through the calm, narrow streets of Taillebourg; the remains of the medieval castle bear witness to its importance in days gone by. The park is a delightful spot to amble around and from the ramparts, the view across the quayside and the Charente valley is magnificent. And if you want to get closer to the water, enjoy a range of nautical activities in a verdant setting: pedalos, electric boats and even water-skiing, an unlikely sport on this peaceful river.
Fenioux stands almost alone on a wooded hill and is rather spellbinding. First of all, the Romanesque church, with its Saintongeais doorway; then the “Lanterne des Morts” – the lantern of the dead. This 18m masterpiece has 34 steps up to the lantern itself. The purity of its architectural lines adds to the majesty of this site.
Fringed with poplars and alders, the Romanesque church of Archingeay in the Boutonne valley, has a pretty bell tower. Dotted around are watermills, ovens and fountains that charm walkers. Families can have fun at “Les Trésors de Lisette” – you’ll need all your wits to discover the thousands of objects from everyday life in the past!