On Monday we headed back to Saintes. I’d read that there was a large monthly market on the first Monday each month, so thought we’d check it out. Maybe it’d be great, maybe it’s be blocks of shoe vendors. Turned out, shoe and clothing vendors, with a small shot of cheap housewares. Ah well.
We walked over to the Abbay Aux Dames. This was an enormous, very wealthy convent founded in 1047. The present church was constructed in the 12th century, and the abbey buildings shortly thereafter, and rebuilt after fires during the Renaissance. In the 18th century the abbey buildings housed a prison, the church was eventually returned to its intended use, and today the buildings house a music school, concert facilities, and you can even stay in the former nun’s cells. And wonder of wonders, the English audioguide is fantastic, packed with detail and engaging. We spent a long time outside the church, identifying the stories and motifs in the carvings.
We then spent time inside to the reconstructed convent, where the reconstructed rooms are airy and light, with some lovely 17th and 18th century carvings.
. Larry climbed the steep scary steps to the belltower, where there were more magnificent carvings.
We drove the short distance to Les Lapidiales in Port-d-Envoix. This is a former stone quarry, where each year sculptors from around the world are invited to create on the site, sculpting into the rock face of the quarry or onto freestanding forms to leave on the site. The works are stunning in their variety and how the artists chose to integrate their ideas with the site.
We had a picnic lunch under the trees–artichoke, cheese, bread, fruit..
We drove through two pretty nearby river towns, Port-d-Envoux and Taillenbour. River views, a Saracen tower with a barn added on to it, a chateau or two turned into schools and hotels, cows contemplating us.
Spent the evening under the grape arbor, and made steak au poivre, endive, and potato salad for dinner.