Do you think trips to monuments are boring? Not here, they aren’t!
When visiting our abbeys and châteaux, visitors bounce from one surprise to the next! And we’re here to share their “added bonuses” with you…
Did you know this was the first women’s abbey in Saintonge?
Founded in 1047, it would remain a seat of wealth and power for more than 700 years. The Sainte-Marie-aux-Dames abbey of Benedictine nuns was like a town within the town of Saintes. The white stone church and its portal populated with images, convent buildings, the 12th century “pine cone” bell tower, a gem of Romanesque art, the chapter house and the nuns’ cells all bear witness to the monastic life which unfolded there over the course of eight centuries.
Nowadays, the abbey is a musical centre. It maintains creative movement by placing music at the heart of its activities. The lively, vibrant Abbaye aux Dames is a place of sharing which is open to anyone. It is a simple, unpretentious invitation to feel all the emotions and pleasure of music.
The hospitable abbey also welcomes visitors to its unusual hotel. You can now sleep in old nuns’ chambers!
- Festival de Saintes (17 to 24 July 2021), a major event where ancient music evolves toward a more contemporary approach
- The abbey’s youth orchestra, a real springboard to the stage, with unique training on ancient instruments offered to young musicians from around the world
- Musicaventure, a connected, sensory way to explore the site
- Concerts held all year round
- Carrousel Musical (Musical Merry-Go-Round)
- The gift shop, which promotes local products, regional literature and musical work
The discreet Fontdouce Abbey was built in the Coran Valley, at the edge of the Fontaine Douce stream… Tucked away behind a curtain of hundred-year-old oaks, discover this abbey at the bottom of a small valley.
Founded in the 12th century, it became a royal abbey in the 15th. From its original Romanesque features to the Gothic cloister, the chapter house and the parlour, it has retained the most striking elements of monastic life.
- A fun Game of Stones trail to explore the gardens of Fontdouce and the surrounding area
- Escape room
- Fontdouce Adventure Park with its treetop adventures and laser tag
A former Benedictine priory founded in the Arnoult Valley in the 11th century, Trizay Abbey is one of Saintonge’s most enigmatic monuments.
The restoration work carried out in 1990 updated the chapel house covered with lovely 13th century vaulted ceilings and elegant multifoil arches, as well as the refectory with its décor painted with the symbols of the Four Evangelists. Today, Trizay is a renowned contemporary art centre with temporary and permanent exhibitions.
- Contemporary art exhibitions
- 3D recreations so you can picture the monastery as it was in the 12th century
- A fun discovery trail, scavenger hunts and a treasure hunt for your youngest
- A building workshop and mediaeval games
Panloy is located on the banks of the Charente in Port-d’Envaux, between Saintes and Rochefort. A listed historic monuments still inhabited by the same family, this 17th and 18th century château has retained its period furnishings. A one hour tour will take you through very authentic areas like drawing rooms, bedrooms, galleries, attic space and more, with a multitude of objects that bore witness to days gone by, like the astonishing coffee maker from 1840, 18th century tapestries, an amusing and rare Louis XV bathtub, a genuine sedan chair, and much more still.
An enormous treasure hunt in the gardens to help you discover the stables, dovecote, chapel and laundry
Château de Crazannes
A listed historic monument built in the 14th century, the Château de Crazannes owes its nickname as the “Castle of Puss in Boots” to an homage to the Count of Caravaz, the property’s 17th century owner, who inspired Charles Perrault to create the Marquis of Carabas, master of Puss in Boots.
Behind its flamboyant sculpted façade decorated with alchemical themes, the château houses a kitchen, a drawing room, a banquet room, a library, a bedroom, a guardroom, a rampart walk and an attic, all of which you can explore on a guided tour. Then tour the gardens on your own, including the chapel, the museum, the moats, the keep and the dovecote.
Many themed activities offered on a regular basis
In the Bruant Valley, the monumental Château de la Roche Courbon towers over its Renaissance terraces and its magnificent formal gardens. Built in the 15th century on a rocky spur, Marquis Jean-Louis de Courbon transformed this château into a country residence in the 17th century.
A historic monument with a tumultuous past, La Roche Courbon was saved from ruin by its neighbour Pierre Loti. Set off for more than three hours of exploration of an inhabited, fully furnished château. What not to miss: the painted room full of paintings on wood.
The Castle Game escape room and PréhistoZen, a prehistoric trail your kids will adore!