The region we know today as Saintes was occupied in Gaulish times by a tribe called the Santones (or Santoni). The town of Mediolanum was erected on the banks of the Charente at the westernmost end of the Via Agrippa linking Lyon and Aquitaine. It became an important administrative centre. In a testimony to the Roman desire to highlight their dominion over the city, monuments were erected that were worthy of a major capital. The way the city developed also reflects the exchange in lifestyles between Gauls and Romans.

Mediolanum was the first historical capital of Aquitania, one of the three large regions of Gaul conquered by Caesar.

The town boasts some of the most important Gallo-Roman remains to be found anywhere in western France, including the amphitheatre and the Arch of Germanicus.

MEDIOLANUM SANTONUM – Saintes, Nueva Aquitania

Mediolanum Santorum
Mediolanum Santonum

Gallo-Roman Amphitheatre

Mediolanum Santorum

The amphitheatre, built in 40-50 CE, is situated in a natural valley, and can be accessed from the city centre via a semi-rural pedestrian route.

The huge structure is a reflection of the city’s standing in the first century. Today, it is one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in France and possibly one of the oldest in Gaul. Standing in the arena today, it is not difficult to imagine the clamour of its 15,000 spectators.

Take a seat in the stands, visit the dark “Gate of the Dead” or stride out of the arena, like the victorious fighters of old, through the light-filled “Gate of the Living”.

20, Rue Lacurie
17100 Saintes

GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 45.746052
Longitude: -0.64499

http://www.ville-saintes.fr
amphitheatre@ville-saintes.fr
Phone +33 5 46 97 73 85

Timetable

Open from 01/02/2019 to 04/30/2019

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 12:30 and from 1:30 to 5pm
  • Sunday from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Open from 05/02/2019 to 09/30/2019

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 7pm.

Abierto del 01/10/2019 al 30/04/2020

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 12:30 and from 1:30 to 5pm
  • Sunday from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Arch of Germanicus

Arch of Germanicus
Arch of Germanicus

The Arch of Germanicus, a monumental gateway with two bays which stands in the main square of the city, has become a symbol of the Roman period.

It was erected in 18-19 CE at the entrance to the Roman bridge leading into the city, and marks the end of the “Via Agrippa”. The structure has survived the centuries and was saved from ruin by Prosper Mérimée in the nineteenth century. The dedicatory inscriptions to Tiberius and Germanicus, which are still visible today, are a fine reminder of the city’s importance in the first century.

Place Bassompierre
17100 Saintes

GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 45.746061
Longitude: -0.628717

http://www.ville-saintes.fr
accueil@saintes-tourisme.fr

Timetable

Open all year long.

Gallo-Roman Aqueduct

Gallo-Roman Aqueduct
Gallo-Roman Aqueduct

More than an aqueduct, Saintes can boast a whole series of connected aqueducts.

During Roman times, public baths played an important part of social life. Mediolanum Santonum (today’s Saintes), is known to have had at least three, including the Saint-Saloine Baths. Water for these establishments and the town’s public fountains was supplied via an aqueduct—or to be more precise, through several linked aqueducts.

The oldest, erected around 20 CE, brought water from Font-Morillon, the current location of the town of Fontcouverte. The design was an audacious example of Roman ingenuity:

the water was piped from its source through a channel running mostly underground as far as Vallon des Arcs (now the site of Golf Road). From here, large structures were constructed.

To give some idea of the magnitude of the undertaking, the Pont des Arcs is 160 metres in length and has 27 arches, the tallest of which stands 16 metres high.

Don’t miss: several pillars of the aqueduct are still standing and following restoration, were integrated into the Rouyer-Guillet golf course in Fontcouverte. Follow the GR route to visit the ruins.

The underground tunnel of Plantis, known as the tunnel of the “nine wells”, ran through a barrel-vaulted channel over 500 metres long, at a depth of up to 17 metres below the ground.

The Haumont bridge, whose 62 arches spanned a valley, was 400 metres in length and up to 29 metres in height.

Despite the inventiveness of the construction, it only carried a modest 3,000 cubic metres of water per day.

– Around the middle of the first century, a new aqueduct was built to bring water from Vénérand and Douhet springs, 15 km away. In order to guarantee a flow of 120,000 cubic metres per day, two new channels were built from each spring. From the junction between the two (Vallon de la Tonne) the water travelled to Fontcouverte through an underground channel. The new aqueduct ran alongside the original one, now abandoned, except where it passed alongside other works of civil engineering, stones from which were re-used to raise the walls of the channel.

Don’t miss: the two springs at Douhet (known as the Gran Source) and Vénérand are open to the public.

The route of the aqueduct has been traced as far as its entrance into the city, at La Grève and Grille, on the summit of a hill overlooking the right bank of the Charente river. However, we do not know which route it took across the river nor how the water reached the final distribution tank above the city, on the left bank.

In recent years, research into the aqueduct has resumed under the direction of the Society of Archaeology and History of Charente-Maritime, in an attempt to further our understanding of the construction. In 2010, a third aqueduct was discovered, dating from the fourth century.

Route du Golf
17100 Fontcouverte

GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 45.764687
Longitude: -0.604374

http://www.ste-archeologique17.asso.fr 
Phone. +33 5 46 74 23 82

Timetable

Open all year long.

Gallo-Roman Walls

Gallo-Roman Walls
Gallo-Roman Walls

With the end of the Pax Romana in the third century, it was felt necessary to erect a defensive wall to protect Mediolanum. This led to a considerable reduction in the area of the city, and some neighbourhoods were abandoned altogether. Stones from dismantled monuments were used in the construction (they can now be seen in the Archaeological Museum)..

Place des Récollets
17100 Saintes

GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 45.745552
Longitude: -0.630962

www.ville-saintes.fr
accueil@saintes-tourisme.fr

Timetable

Open all year long.

Saint-Saloine Baths

Saint-Saloine Baths
Saint-Saloine Baths

The baths date from the latter half of the first century and were built during the second phase of enlargement of the original city. From the ruins it is still possible to partly make out the area of the caldarium (hot bath), bordered by a retaining wall with niches.

Rue des Thermes Romains
17100 Saintes

GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 45.751010
Longitude: -0.635983

www.ville-saintes.fr
accueil@saintes-tourisme.fr

Timetable

Archaeological Museum

Archaeological Museum
Archaeological Museum

Mediolanum (now Saintes), was one of the largest cities in Roman Gaul. What was life like for its inhabitants? What did they eat? What games did they play?

You can get some idea from the exhibits on display in the room dealing with everyday life, which include numerous items unearthed during archaeological excavations in Saintes.

Esplanada André Malraux
17100 Saintes

GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 45.745482
Longitude: -0.628848

http://www.ville-saintes.fr
musees@ville-saintes.fr
Phone: +33 5 46 74 20 97 / +33 5 46 98 23 90

Timetable

From 01/10/2018 to 03/31/2019

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 13:30 to 17:00.

From 04/01/2019 to 09/30/2019

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 12:30 and from 1:30 to 6pm
  • Sunday from 2pm to 6pm

From 01/10/2019 to 03/31/2020

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Closed on 1 January, 1 May, 1 November and 25 December.

ACCOMMODATION

HOTELS  

Check out our list of all the hotels in the city and choose the one that best suits your requirements. Situated in the city centre or just a short drive away, in calm and pleasant surroundings, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your budget and your needs!

GUEST HOUSES  

There is a wide variety of accommodations on offer, where local people will welcome you with open arms.

RURAL HOMES AND HOLIDAY RENTALS  

Whether it’s a traditional Charente-style home or a new house with all mod cons, find the rental that best suits your needs.

CAMP SITES 

Check out the list of camp sites in Saintes and nearby. From glamping to farm camping, there’s something here for all tastes!

YOUTH HOSTEL AND PILGRIMS’ HOSTEL

RESIDENCES AND HOLIDAY CENTRES  

Are you coming in a large group? Would you like to share some unforgettable moments with locals and tourists. Choose from one of our residences and Villages Vacances.

AREAS FOR CAMPER VANS  

RESTAURANTS

Saintes and Saintonge have a wide variety of establishments offering traditional local cuisine and dishes from further afield. There’s something here for everyone—from gourmets to those who just need a quick meal.

TRADITIONAL CUISINE 

There are plenty of places in Saintes and the surrounding area to enjoy some delicious traditional dishes.

TASTES FROM FURTHER AFIELD 

Choose one of our exotic dishes and let your taste buds do the travelling!

FAST FOOD

RESTAURANTS OPEN ON SUNDAYS 

Looking for a restaurant that’s open on Sundays? Step this way! Open for lunch and/or dinner.

Tourist Office

Place Bassompierre
17100 Saintes

GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 45.746061
Longitude: -0.6309059,17

https://www.ville-saintes.fr
Phone: +33 (0) 5 46 74 23 82
accueil@saintes-tourisme.fr


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Tourist Office - Saintes

Timetable

  • Monday-Sunday:  9:30 – 12:30 / 13:30 – 18:00

Parkings  

Transports  

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