For Ladies Only!

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In truth, we did invite the boys, but they didn’t want to come! Jack would rather stick pins in his eyes than spend an afternoon browsing in shops and Roddy, although an excellent companion when one needs a little retail therapy, had a myriad of things he wanted to do at home. So after plenty of grey and damp days the sun finally returned last Saturday and the girls and I set out for Saintes, leaving the male element to fend for themselves.

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The instant the title “For Ladies Only” popped into my head, something else also came to mind, it made me immediately think of my great grandmother’s autograph book from the late 1800’s, known as her ‘writing album’. Such books were traditionally exchanged amongst friends, often cousins and distant relations, to be filled with poems, drawings, personal messages and small pieces of verse. I am fortunate enough to be the guardian of two of these little volumes; the drawings are exquisite and some of the writing is incredibly amusing, I will share them with you at another time for they really are great treasures. But for whatever reason, it was the entry below that I thought of; I have read it many times and it never fails to make me smile!

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These few words have caused much debate here as there is no ‘Stewart’ in our family history, and this makes me think this note was obviously written by a friend in 1889. Throughout the books the notes are from both males and females, so here’s a question for you – do you think this was a lady voicing her opinion of men, or vice versa? We’re split down the middle at home. But whichever way you look at it, these little books happen to be a wonderfully convenient reminder of how much I value history in our modern world, a  value that is amply demonstrated throughout France by the evidence of the past on every corner of every street, in virtually every town and village.

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Saintes has a history that goes back to Roman times, one of the things I love most about this city is the way that contemporary shops rub shoulders so comfortably with ancient Roman columns and historic buildings; so often differing architectural styles can be at odds, but here the old structures loom over the modern parts of the town, continuing to play the same roles they have starred in for centuries, where streets have echoed to the sound of so many different voices.

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Saintes has a population of around 27,000 inhabitants, and it’s been a busy town since before those Roman times, when the indications are that it existed as an important Celtic town; and because of its gallo-roman, medieval and classical heritage, Saintes is officially listed as a ‘Ville d’Art et d’Histoire‘.

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We parked the car and wandered along the narrow roads towards the centre of the town, most of which lies on the west bank of the River Charente.

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Back in those far-off Roman days, Saintes was the first capital of Aquitaine. Today Saintes remains an influential commercial city, influenced not only by its continued transportation links, but also thanks to its important administrative, industrial and public service sectors and because of its past, Saintes is also a major tourist destination.p4920519

One of the few complete Roman arches outside of Italy, the Arch of Germanicus was a gesture of triumph built by a common citizen that was was originally constructed at the entrance to a bridge crossing the river. In 1843 the arch was actually moved 15 metres along the quay when the old bridge was demolished but it still remains today in much the same state as when it was first put together in 18 and 19 AD.

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Christmas is coming of course, so all along the banks of the river, wooden chalets have been imported ready for the festive season, (here this does not kick off until the first weekend in December), and the earth is waiting for the dozens of Christmas trees which will be temporarily planted. By the weekend this will all be buzzing with activity; we were a week too early, but it’s a good excuse to return!

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Sitting in an imposing position is the Galeries Lafayette, one of France’s largest retail chains. It has four floors of fashion, make-up, children’s clothing, toys and home decor and I suspect the four of us dallied a little too long amongst its offerings.

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It was Millie’s suggestion that we take a right hand turn off the pedestrianised cobbled street and walk down to the library; “It’s fabulous” she said, for she had been here a couple of weeks ago doing some research with a couple of school friends. This area is a classic example of the ancient and modern co-exisiting in perfect harmony, the audiovisual library sits alongside the former Convent of the Jacobins.

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Continuing along the narrow streets between houses dating from the 17th to 19th centuries

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we passed a small pre-school, the Ecole Maternelle Les Jacobins.

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Dominating the view from almost anywhere in the town is the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Saintes. The rather different dome on the tower is a result of economics, as the planned spire proved too costly for the funds available at the time!

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The Musee du Presidial is a fine arts museum built in 1610 and houses paintings of the XIXth and XXth centuries, and a collection of Sèvres china; it also holds many temporary art exhibitions.

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As dusk was starting to fall we crossed back over the river

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and stopped at the Archaeological Museum which is sadly closed at the moment; however we were able to peek inside through openings covered in old wooden latticework.p4920516

This museum has an interesting collection of Roman lapidary, including columns, capitals, architraves and bas-reliefs, and the rare metal remains of a ceremonial axe from the late 1C are also on display.

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Lastly, Saintes is also home to a complete Roman amphitheatre, built in the 1st century AD. The amphitheatre originally seated 15000 people and although we have visited this on many previous occasions, we didn’t have the time to do so today; we were dining at a friend’s house and had to rush to get home and change. There were apéros around a glowing fire and a delicious meal followed; fabulous fun, great company, and a wonderful start to any weekend.

113 thoughts on “For Ladies Only!

  • What a pleasure to read this evening. A beautiful city indeed and so much history, how lucky your girls are to be able to see such places. Fabulous photos

    • Thank you Varsha, we are indeed lucky to live amongst such history as you are too. Sometimes it’s fun to be a tourist and notice things that we take for granted and just to stand and marvel at stone carved nearly 2000 years ago. xx

  • I had no idea this important city even existed, definitely on my list when we are next in France, as always thank you so much for including us in your afternoon with your girls and how patient they must be whilst you stop and take photos for all of us to see, so thank you to all of you. Bev x

      • And we are so glad they are, it wouldn’t be the same without them and the dogs and the chickens, I am sure I speak for many readers when I say it is the whole package that we enjoy and what makes it special 😀

    • Thank you Carole, Saintes is such a beautiful city. I think that is one of the things I love most about the note, it was written over 100 years ago and yet, as you say, it is such a great question, could have been written today, and nice to know that there was such humour back then too. xx

  • Definitely on the bucket list for next year…..time for a new adventure. I guess this one should finish first though. Just a ferry ride now.

    Ali xx

    • Oooh definitely, you would love a day there, and so many more things I didn’t even mention. It’s been a long journey home, I was thinking of you yesterday and wondering how the traveling had gone. No doubt by now you will be home, tonight the biggest treat, back in your own bed. Now Christmas, enjoy xxx

  • I love visiting Galeries Lafayette in Paris, I didn’t even know it existed in other towns, obviously I need to venture further afield! Saintes is on my agenda next year, you have inspired me for the first time to see more than just the capital!

    • Thanks Shari, whilst Paris is indeed fantastic, there are also so many other wonderful and very varied places in France certainly well worth visiting, I really hope next year you do manage to explore slightly further afield. xx

  • OOOH! My favourite sort of post – lots of ‘old’, lots of photos and a hint of Christmas around the corner. I can picture this in my mind’s eye, a French city just before Christmas, things going up, lights about to be switched on and excited children. All done with taste as only the French can. Wonderful. I know there will be lights and baubles coming soon. And a photo please of a traditional chocolate log, perhaps? The French always do those sooooo well. Has your frenchification turned you all into an oyster family on Christmas Eve, yet? I mustn’t let the missus see the Galeries Lafayette photo. We’ll be off to Dieppe before you can blow your nose otherwise……

    • Thanks Phil, you have summed up France better than I! It is slow to get started here, pretty much like our French lifestyle it all takes it’s time, the lights in the villages and towns will be turned on tomorrow night, ice skating starts in the outdoor square in Rochefort tomorrow, slowly slowly, the festivities begin. The excitement builds, it is such a wonderful time for adults and children alike. Alas, I loathe oysters and that is sometimes a problem when we live in what is often known as the oyster capital of France! Oyster stands litter the side of the road everywhere, they are our form of quick takeaway, we don’t have burger bars we have oyster stalls! Tell your wife she can come and visit us here and go to Galeries Lafayette anytime! There is also one in La Rochelle!! xx

  • Such a lovely, relaxing post to read as I get ready for work this morning. Reminds me of some of the enjoyable days with my s-i-l, exploring French towns in a very different part of the country. I enjoy retail therapy, or at least looking at all the possibilities, but it’s always nice to take a tea break. I like having modern stores in older buildings or modern buildings mixed with the historic ones. Although the US doesn’t have buildings as old as many in Europe, many places have done well preserving the old; others, not so much.

    janet

    • Hi Janet, I have seen many great well preserved old buildings in the States and like you I love seeing the old mixed with the new, a great reminder of the past but also a nod to the future which is no bad thing either. A little retail therapy does us all good from time to time and at this time off year it’s a good feeling to be well organised in advance, hopefully it lessens the stress and makes it all much more enjoyable. xx

    • Thanks so much Trish, I really do appreciate it. There is so much more to see that I didn’t even mention, it is a fascinating town and incredible to stand and stare at columns and stones that were carved 2000 years ago, almost incomprehensible. xx

  • Thank you for taking us along on your ladies day. What a beautiful and interesting city. I especially love the first shot, the abbreviated Cathedral dom,e and the autograph books. I, too, have an old album from the 1800s that I treasure. I’m so glad that it wasn’t lost over the generations.

    • Hi Brenda, I can imagine how you treasure that old album too, it’s something that can never be replaced, what always amazes me when I look through it is the immense care that was taken, the sketches and paintings must have taken hours. I love the Cathedral dome, a sad reality that made it what it is today. Hope you have a calm and peaceful end to the week and weekend. xx

  • Thank you for such an interesting tour of lovely Saintes. I am wondering what the chains draped over the street in several pictures are?

    • Thanks so much Kathleen, the chains are in fact all the Christmas lights that have been set up throughout the city. They will be switched on now it is the 1st December, it must be quite a fantastic sight at night with the narrow streets completely lit up. We are in Saintes on Sunday afternoon and we will probably still be there as darkness falls so I will try and take some more photos. xx

  • Thanks for sharing your lovely day in Saintes. I knew nothing about it until now. It sounds beautiful. And to be able to spend a day shopping with your girls must be such fun. Did you get all the Christmas shopping done?

    • Thanks Nadia, if you come up this way you must spend a day or half day there, so much to see and it really is a thriving city, on Saturday afternoons the cafes are buzzing and the whole place is alive, despite it not being during the tourist season. Always fun to shop with the girls, christmas shopping is just about all sorted. How about you? are you organised? Do you have family coming over? xx

    • It is really buzzing for a small city and thriving, not always the case in France as you know. School trips take us to so many new places, whenever I am free I always put my name down to accompany the children, it’s rather fun and I always love watching them all together, plus, as you say I get to discover somewhere new! xx

  • Thank you for the mini-vacation this morning while I read your blog, longing for a trip there! I’m still pondering your “for ladies only question”…..I miss the notion of writing notes and letters to each other but technology has made emailing so easy. I often wonder if anyone is capturing the same historic trail that letters have left with emails…Happy December 1st!

    • Thanks Mary, technology has made life so easy, without it I would miss chatting to our eldest daughter every day whilst she is away at university and talking to friends around the world, but there is still nothing that can beat a simple hand written note, a card or a drawing, not that I am any good at art, I leave that to the children! Hope you have a good run up to Christmas xx

  • The charming and fascinating architecture of Roman construction always catches my eye and imagination. It would be so easy to see myself walking through the narrow streets to fondly gaze around such amazing sites and lingering.

    • It completely fascinates me, to look at something that was carved and built 2000 years ago, it is almost incomprehensible and to see it still standing strong today. The narrow streets lined with the tall houses are stunning, I could have walked for hours longer and will certainly go and spend more time there. The amphitheatre is incredibly special and very atmospheric. xx

  • a girly day out with your daughters, then some great pictures of your sight seeing, all rolled into one, making a fabulous, interesting post.
    What a beautiful writing album, I definitely think the writing is a ladies.

    • Thanks Barbara, a great afternoon out with the girls and lots of giggles and lots of fun! Another place you simply have to visit, I would happily have Saintes as my local town, it has everything one needs and more. xx

  • It hadn’t dawned on me that you live near Saintes. We stopped off there last year on our way home from a break at the coast. We especially wanted to see the Basilica Saint Eutrope and the Roman arch and amphitheatre. I blogged about the Basilica and the arch but never got round to the amphitheatre.

    • We are about half an hour away due west close to the coast. Where were you on the coast for your break last year? Did you get to visit the amphitheatre? I find whenever we visit and walk into the centre it is almost quite haunting and incredibly atmospheric. It has been so well preserved. Whenever we have friends from abroad visiting it is one of the first places we take them. xx

      • Oh my goodness, you really were just down the road from us! Next time you are in the area you should go into the amphitheatre and walk around if you have time, once you get into the middle it is incredible. Also stop by and have a coffee or an apéro. My husband is passionate about insects and wildlife and fungi, he would talk to your for hours! xx

  • Oh, Susan, your photographs made me feel like I was on the walk with you and your daughters! Thank you!! What a treat! I also did not previously know about Saintes and will definitely be adding it to my list for a future trip to France. I am in the midst of my Christmas decorating and will look forward to you sharing your decorating as well as a further peek into your great grandmother’s autograph book. What a treasure!! xo

    • Hi Anne, definitely a city to add to your list for the future, there is so much to see and the surrounding villages are also very pretty. We haven’t started decorating yet, hence I am going to be one of the last bloggers to talk about Christmas decorations! In France things are a little slower in general life and with Christmas! the lights in the towns and villages are not usually turned on until this weekend, now that we are in December slowly things start to happen, the festivities begin and we too shall start decorating, although we probably won’t get our tree for another week or so! Enjoy your decorating, I am itching to get started! xx

  • This blog is a wonderful start to my weekend – Thank you Susan. My feeling is that a woman wrote those words. I love the little albums – such a special feature of that time and even when I was a child! What treasures to keep.
    Saintes is indeed a beautiful place – one I have visited briefly, but having read your blog, one I would enjoy spending much more time in. Sounds like the perfect way to spend the day….and a lovely meal with friends afterwards is the perfect icing on the cake. Enjoy the weekend and beginning of December….janet.:)xx

    • The albums are so beautiful and as an artist you would be particularly fond of them and I am sure everyone would have wanted you to write in them. We have some huge watercolours hanging in our house by a Victorian artist who at the time was quite well known, a cousin of my great grandmother’s and in the albums he writes and sketches too. You must visit Saintes again, there is so much to see and I am sure plenty more we have yet to discover, I know for instance in the summer there are fantastic music festivals in the Abbey. Hope you to enjoy the beginning of December, not quite sure how it came upon us quite so quickly! xx

      • It’s very interesting because it was one of my (now 97 year old) aunt’s sketchbooks/journals that had a huge impact on my young mind – I was about three or four years old when I saw it. That little book was the beginning of my desire to become an artist. Sometime in the future, I look forward to see your watercolour collection….meantime have a lovely weekend with your beautiful family…janet. xx

      • How incredible, so you always knew you wanted to be an artist from when you were tiny? I look at these two albums in complete awe, some of the watercolours are tiny but so intricate, they must have taken hours, so much care and thought went into a little note. There are others with pressed flowers and others are just words. Cold but crisp and clear here, just as we like it! Hope you have a lovely weekend too xx

  • I ADORE Saintes and I ‘know’ it for yet another reason than those stated by you, Susan. It’s a quite famous place for its summer music festivals and I had sworn to myself that one day, one year, I would be there, participating in it and not only hearing about it. It was a funny sort of visit too, I made, many years ago.
    Hero Husband and I were staying in a B&B at a cattle farmer’s place. We didn’t know anything about the owners except that we liked the sound of the description of their place and upon arriving we were stopped along a fence, not even yet on their front yard and the farmer addressed us in his very strong accent: Do you eat red meat? I had absolutely no idea what he was on about but HH said: Yes, of course… Luckily, it turned out as the owner was locked in a private war with 1) vegetarians, 2) English people (we came in our car from UK with an English license plate) 3) people who were afraid of eating beef (don’t recall if it was the time of the Foot & Mouth or something….)….. and lastly, he didn’t like his wife’s acceptation of ‘foreign’ visitors….
    His unfriendly behaviour didn’t REALLY matter all that much as we were booked for B&B not with evening meals BUT HE had already decided if we wanted to stay in his and his wife’s house, an evening meal it was…. We got a big room with a HUGE bed in it. Having ourselves a 6×7 ft bed, this must have been a 7x8ft throne with a tremendously heavy FULL LINEN bed sheet. It was snow white and weighed only about a ton…. I had to absolutely force myself to look at and even more to eat the huge slab of cow meat in the evening but sleeping was wonderful – quiet, peaceful and deep, until the cockerel crowed with his great importance…. Once the ‘boss’ realised we were actually human beings and spoke French, he became very accessible and we talked at length about the situation of French ‘farming’, the music festival and the world in general.
    We visited Saintes, had a light lunch on the borders of the Charente and …. were promising ourselves to come back one day. It’s a delightful, dreamy and yet wonderfully up-to-date little town and I envy you slightly for being close-by!
    Hope you found everything you were shopping for – as for the poem album I can’t help or even guess as I don’t understand the meaning of the message – must be my purely Swiss background. BUT I could tell you a story – I’m pretty good at that 🙂
    Love, Kiki

    • Oh my goodness, what a story, I am glad we weren’t staying there, being English!! The bed sounds enormous and quite unusual for a country farmhouse in rural France, how bizarre and the meal sounds utterly horrendous! Saints on the other hand is a fabulous city, really thriving and buzzing and very much alive, which is not always the case in semi rural France as you know, it has quite a cosmopolitan feel which I love. I’ll explain the message, the note is originally inside the envelope which simply says ‘For Ladies Only’, the implication being that those three words alone would make a man open the envelope to see what was inside. Once they had opened it they would read the simple words telling them that they are very inquisitive having opened an envelope that was for ladies only. Hope this helps! I had meant to mention the music festivals which are so well known throughout the warmer months and completely forgot, thanks for reminding me! Have a lovely end to the week and weekend. xxx

    • So hope you do make it here one day, if you come in this direction then Saintes is certainly well worth a visit, there is so much to see and the amphitheatre is an absolute must too, it is incredible and so atmospheric. Hope you are having a stress free and peaceful run up to Christmas xx

  • Oh, Thank you Susan. Each morning I open my e-mail in hopes of a message from you and today I was not disappointed. What a wonderful history lesson. To me sounds like a perfect” lady’s day out”. I love going to the Galleries Lafayette in Paris when I visited oh about 10 years age. It reminded me of large store in New York.
    Thank you for sharing your exploring with the girls. Looking forward to more exploring and history lessons.
    Cheers to you all!

    • Thanks so much Freda, I always post on a Thursday and as often as I can on a Sunday but sometimes I just don’t have the time and I have to put the family first, I would hate to ever disappoint. Galeries Lafayette reminds me of Nordstrom, we all love just wandering around, there is so much to see and it’s fun for the girls who do make great shopping companions. Hope you are enjoying the run up to Christmas, one of my favourite times of year and now it is December we can finally start decorating here! The lights in the towns and villages will be turned on and the festivities will finally start to begin. xx

  • We moved to a village just outside of Saintes 4 months ago and absolutely love it here! It’s so beautiful, we’ve really enjoyed getting to know the town. I’ve seen some Xmas trees around already, but I’m looking forward to seeing the decorations in full swing! Will have to check out that library too…

    • Hi Nadine, I loved having a read around your blog and hope to go and read a lot more! Our youngest daughter was born in Auckland although we lived in the Bay of Islands, so we have much in common! I see you recently visited the Ile d’Oleron, so close to us here! hope you enjoy the run up to Christmas, it starts slowly here but I rather enjoy that and the lights in the towns and villages are gorgeous. xx

  • Until 4 years ago, I lived in Poitiers and visited Saintes several times. Thank you so much for the lovely visual and descriptive reminders.

    • Not too far from Saintes at all, so glad you enjoyed our stroll around Saintes today, it’s a beautiful city with so many things to see and also so alive and thriving for a rural city in France. Where are you now, still in France or further afield? xx

  • Wonderful pictures, as always. Thank you for this tour. Saintes has been on my list for a while now, and you’ve just made it more “real” for me.

  • A wonderful sightseeing tour…thank you. I was curious and googelt where Sainte is and there are more interesting
    places worth to see. With 27.000 inhabitants it is quite an interesting and lively town with little shops and Lafayette..
    olala and a lot of history. Also the surounding of that city is beautiful, lots of green…I like it and sometimes I will
    visit it.

    • There are plenty of fascinating things and places to see in Saintes, many more than I mentioned, the music festivals in the warmer months at the Abbey are incredible, I shall write about them next summer! It is rally thriving and buzzing which is not always the case at all in semi rural France. The surrounding villages are very pretty, it’s a lovely area with warm and friendly people, definitely worth a visit. xx

      • Yes, the music festival… I will be there . B.t.w. I find it very kind that even you got more than 100 comments
        you don’t get tired to answer everyone…(and it is pre christmas time where many get stressed)… I really appreciate this nature on you. Thank you.

      • Thank you so much. If you are coming to one of the music festivals this summer you must come and see us, maybe an apero before, or lunch? We are only half an hour from Saintes, do email me. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • Thank you for the visit to Saintes! How lucky we are to have daughters! I have a son and a daughter and I love going ‘girlie shopping’ with my daughter, talking about the children and having coffee and we have done that regularly through the years. My son naturally doesn’t really want to go mooching around shops, but he like me has a love of history and architecture and so we have decided that we will go out together for a day a couple of times a year to visit somewhere we are both interested in. Luckily he too likes to stop for coffee so I am well catered for! This year we went up to London, had a walk around Hampstead, a first for me, then on to the Tower of London, St Catherine’s dock, saw St Andrews Undershaft, near the Gherkin, the 15th Century church that survived the 1666 Fire of London and the Blitz. Amazing. We stopped for coffee and lunch and walked to St Paul’s Cathedral, although no time to go inside as it was time to get to Waterloo to get home. It was a tiring but wonderful day, precious time with my son, something that can be overlooked if we are not careful. It’s easy for mums to spend time with daughters as we already have something in common, but spending time with our sons is just as important. I am blessed that my children want to take time out to spend with their mum and I am truly grateful.

    • Sounds like a fabulous day with your son, I love spending time in London, takes me back to my 20’s! Spending time with our daughters is indeed easy but I am lucky in that I often get to do things with Jack, quite often the two of us will walk the dogs together or go for a cycle together, actually it is rarer for him to spend time alone with Roddy so it was nice for them to have an afternoon together without the girls hanging around too! Hope you are not too cold, I hear you have had some very sharp frosts, stay warm and enjoy the run up to Christmas, one of my favourite months of the year. xx

    • I doubt it has changed much at all over the decades, some new shops of course and new cafes and restaurants but little else. It is a fabulously buzzing and thriving city. Hope you come back! xx

    • It’s always a pleasure to be out and about with the children, we always have lots of fun together, they make great shopping companions and in such a beautiful city, you must visit one day. xx

  • I very much enjoyed learning about and seeing pictures of Saintes. The shops and cafes look so inviting and ready for Christmas. I also love shopping with my grown daughter – definitely a girl thing! We live in the US so of course we don’t have anything that old. St. Augustine, Fl is our oldest city. I love learning about life in France and getting to see some of the lesser known (to me) areas. We love to travel to Quebec City, Canada which is also an old city for North American and very French. Thank you sharing about your area. I enjoy reading about it. I always love learning how people in other countries celebrate Christmas.

    Sue in Florida

    • I have visited St Augustine a couple of times and really enjoyed it but I have never been to Quebec although we do have distant relatives there. It is such a treat to be able to shop with our daughters, no matter how old or young they are! Hope you enjoy the run up to Christmas, definitely one of my favourite months of the year and hope it is not too hot in Florida at the moment! xx

    • Thanks so much Pat, It is easy to get lost there, but that’s when one tends to discover something new and interesting again and it’s not that big so taking a few wrong turns doesn’t really cause any problems! xx

    • Thanks Joanne, I am in total awe of them too, I stand and stare at them finding it almost incomprehensible that they were built and the stones carved 2000 years ago and that they still stand today. The amphitheatre is equally incredible. It is a real treat to be able to spend an afternoon here. xx

    • Thanks so much, it is a fascinating city because it combines so much, perhaps this is the reason it is always buzzing and full of life. Hope you are having a good start to your adventures! I am following along on your blog. xx

  • Loved reading about your day in Saintes, a city I am not familiar with but it looks like I should be! France is so mind bowing the way the ancient and the modern mingle so harmoniously together, great photos!!

    • Thanks so much, if ever you are in Charente Maritime or the area in general it is well worth a visit, so much history it is almost incomprehensible, to stand and stare at something that was carved and built 2000 years ago, it leaves me speechless. xx

  • I loved this tour, with it’s Roman structures to see and it’s little hits for the festivities to come. It was a nice way to begin getting in the holiday mood. And the light on the street where all the cars were parked was fabulous.

    • It is a gorgeous little city and really busy and thriving which is not always the case for towns in semi rural France. There is so much to do and so much history alongside excellent shops, well worth a visit if you are in Charente Maritime at any time. xx

  • Contrary to public opinion I think the note was written by a man, I just don’t think a lady would have written this! Have never heard of Saintes but it looks really busy for a small town, is it always like this or is it just Christmas shoppers?

    • It is always a busy city Lisa, thriving and buzzing and as you say this is quite unusual for a semi rural town in France, perhaps this is what makes it so special. It is busy all year round, especially on weekends. I truly don’t know who the note was written by, I swing in both directions, sometimes I think it was definitely a lady and at others, like you, I think it was a man with a great sense of humour. Who knows, sadly we shall never know the answer! xx

  • Fabulous tour, Susan, thank you. Definitely a city to visit next year, then! It looks as though the Charente is pretty big there – I can see a tour boat, is that right? Roman ruins and neolithic stuff – it will be a long day….. The girlfriend is hoping that there might be a chair or two in Les Galeries L – just for therapeutic purposes, of course…..

    • Thanks Simon, if you are in the area then Saintes is definitely worth a visit, it is the most fascinating city. The Charente is indeed big here and the water is much nicer than closer to the coast, that is a tour boat, several operate from Saintes. You can discover all the historical sites, your girlfriend will be extremely content with the shopping and there are some great restaurants too, what more can one ask for? xx

  • Ah, we drove past Saintes on our way to D’s uncle’s place, on the Charents/Dordogne border. It looked beautiful from the outskirts – and sounds great from your description. We’ll have to visit it properly when we next go down there! #AllAboutFrance

    • Next time you are in Charente Maritime do spend a few hours at the very least in Saintes, I promise it is well worth it and there is so much to see, coupled with some lovely shops and great restaurants, what’s not to like! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • I enjoyed that stroll through Saintes this morning while having my morning coffee. Thank you!

    It was really interesting to see your great grandmother’s autograph books because we were recently given a big box of memorabilia from my husband’s side of the family and it contained several of these books from various family members – even the men had them! What amazed me, though, is what a different time those people lived in – none of the vitriol and coarseness that we see in modern media. The books are filled with kind sentiments, expressions of friendship and lovely poems – so much more innocence than we have now. The books we have also dated from the mid to late 1800s.

    The fog is lifting here this morning along the Stanislaus river in Northern California so we are set to have a brisk but sunny day. Have a good one!

    • Hi Kay, So glad you enjoyed our little tour of Saintes! These books are so wonderful, fabulous that you have some too and I totally agree with you about the innocence, and yet as this one that I picked out shows, there was still plenty of humour. What I love is the time and care people took illustrating a poem or creating a tiny watercolour painting, there was so much elegance that in general is missing now. We have had several nights of frosts now, more than we had the whole of last winter in total! But I love it, chilly clear nights, mean brisk sunny days, much nicer than damp and grey weather! Hope you have a lovely weekend, it sounds as if you live in a lovely area. xx

  • Oh no not another gorgeous French town in France to visit! Will the list never end? Wishing you and your family very bonnes fêtes de fin d’année Susan. Thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance again and inspiring everyone with your lovely photos (and words!) I wish I could go on a ladies’ day with you…all boys in my household!

  • Thank you for the stunning visit to another beautiful city! I feel like I was along with you girls.
    I’ve not heard of the writing albums……….how wonderful.
    How fun that the Christmas shops are soon to open…….in such a charming way!
    What n incredible mixture of travelogue, history lessons with the most delectable delivery (where were you in high school?) family time, food, nature……………..and…………..hygge!
    Cheers!

    • Thanks so much, the writing albums are fantastic, if ever there was a fire in our house they would be the first thing I would grab, I absolutely adore them. Saintes is such a beautiful city, so much to do, great shops, incredible history and warm friendly people all mingling in tiny narrow streets. xx

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