A site and a
Fifteen kilometres drive south of
Royan, Talmont-sur-Gironde is famous for its Romanesque church
which overlooks the Gironde, and is very popular with tourists,
attracted by the charm of this village which has less than a
The site, a rocky headland which towers above the Gironde, is
indeed exceptional and leaves a visual and unforgettable memory.
The fortified town
The church of Sainte-Radegonde overlooking the Gironde, is
undoubtedly the most famous view on the postcards of Saintonge
and it is found in all the guidebooks and brochures as the
symbol of the region.
The fortified town was built in 1284, on the orders of Edward
1st of England. The English reigned from 1154 over
Aquitaine and the banks of the Gironde.
Talmont's museum, established in the old school building, which
is near the town hall in the magnificent little square dominated
by its huge tree, takes you on a journey through the past
history of this fortified town.
The Church of Sainte-Radegonde
The Church of Sainte-Radegonde was
built at the end of the 11th and the beginning of the
12th Century, in the Romanesque style Saintongeais.
It constituted a stage on the route to
Santiago de Compostela, for numerous pilgrims.
From Talmont, several routes were taken by the pilgrims, either
to cross the estuary, or by-pass it by continuing towards Blaye
and Bordeaux, or to go by sea to join the Bay of Biscay.
It was only later, at the end of the
Middle Ages, that it was fortified.
It presents a solid, powerful aspect, with its square tower at
the top of the building.
It suffered many attacks from the sea
and lost two spans of the nave.
It was saved by the reinforcement work made to the cliff.
The arches over the north portal are
These remarkable sculptures were restored in recent years in the
original Romanesque style.
This can be seen by comparing the
photograph taken in 2001 of the arches over the north portal,
with the old picture postcard, where it can been seen that the
arches had been replaced by stones.
By examining the sculptured figures more closely, one realises
the variety of inspiration of the sculptors, the angels, the
Saints, men pulling an animal, the representations of various
If you decide to go to visit Talmont at the height of the summer
tourist season, wait until all the visitors leave at the end of
the day and take time to see the sun setting on the Church of
Sainte-Radegonde and the surrounding small maritime cemetery.
Walk around the walls, walk along the alleys and down the small
street, when they are empty and all the visitors have gone.
Talmont becomes again a haven of peace.
Talmont-sur-Gironde is built on a headland which looks out on to
a magnificent panoramic view over the estuary of the Gironde
with, on the left, the cliffs of Talmont and on the right-hand
side, the white cliffs of Meschers.
In the first photograph, one sees at the foot of the cliffs of
Talmont, a group of carrelets, fishing huts, which do not appear
again on the following photograph …
They were destroyed by the terrible storm in December, 1999.