There is a peninsula, a village with two cliffs that catches the eye of any traveler taking the green route along the Gironde estuary between Royan and Bordeaux. This is Talmont-sur-Gironde, a listed village, a pedestrian town nestled on a rocky promontory. To the south of Meschers caves, the Sainte-Radegonde church dominates Talmont, a true emblem of the Royan region and the department of Charente Maritime.
Talmont-sur-Gironde, among The Most Beautiful Villages of France®
Leave cars and 2-wheelers in dedicated car parks: Talmont can be visited on foot! This is how you make the most of the typical and discreet charm of the city of 100 inhabitants.
Built by the English in the XNUMXth century, Talmont-sur-Gironde takes the form of a bastide in Aquitaine with its perpendicular streets to facilitate the movement of military troops. King Edward I of England (the villain opposite Mel Gibson in the film "Braveheart") thus locked the Gironde estuary and controlled access to the port of Bordeaux.
Walk in the heart of Talmont
lined with hollyhocks, the cobbled streets reveal part of the small heritage of the village in every corner: a sundial, an alley or a well. THE Saintonge houses with colored shutters have become, for some, arts and crafts workshops and shops for the pleasure of visitors: paint, glassware, leather, jewelry, clothing...
Hidden in the heart of the city, the centenary lime tree sits proudly in the center of the Place de la Priauté opposite the Town Hall. Time for a break in the shade, it is quiet, even in summer.
The small Port of Talmont experienced its strongest period of activity, particularly during the period of sturgeon fishing and caviar production, during the first half of the XNUMXth century. Made of a channel dug by man and equipped with pontoons, it lives to the rhythm of the tides thanks to its hand-operated lock.
From the port, we see the Caillaud cliff lined with squares and sheltering the vineyards of Talmont. We always walk there on foot or we take our bike (after all, we are on the route of the Canal des 2 Mers by bike® !) for a beautiful nature walk between the vines and the edge of the cliff. The panorama is worth the detour. We can thus observe the Chandorat Bay at the end of the path or theSainte-Radegonde church on the way back. For the best shot, it's here!
The Sainte-Radegonde church, on the side of a cliff and at the risk of the waves
THEroman church dates from the twelfth century. It was then classified as a Historic Monument in 1890. It is dedicated to Sainte-Radegonde, queen of the Franks in the XNUMXth century and protector of sailors. Its nave, its crypt and its guard way on the roof have now disappeared. His bedside is the delight of amateur and professional photographers. It is decorated with corbels representing animals, faces and even a wine barrel!
The spray and the salt of the sea eat away at the church made of limestone stones. The North portal is in the pure Saintonge Romanesque style. At the time, it was a veritable book of open stone which transmitted the good word to the often illiterate faithful. This is why we find different sculptures on the arches: a lion pulled by a rope, a human scale, the lamb of the Apocalypse...
Inside, the capitals support the cupola. With your nose in the air, you can see, among other things, the fight of St-Georges against the dragon. Donated by Anne of Austria, an antependium (bead and silk embroidery serving as an altar front) arouses the curiosity of visitors. An ex-voto vessel is also suspended in the north apsidiole.
Next to the church, the marine cemetery is unique on the Atlantic coast thanks to its Saintonge tombstones and cenotaphs with a “sea view”. In fine weather, hollyhocks complete the picture.
A historic but lively village
The history of Talmont-sur-Gironde is rich and these few lines cannot fully honor it. THE village museum, installed in the former municipal school, goes back in time thanks to its models, collectibles and videos. Under the old courtyard, the fishing museum completes the visit with its dioramas depicting different eras and techniques. In the garden, the skiff, a small traditional boat, is reminiscent of sturgeon fishing.
Talmont can also be visited in a more fun way with smartphone applications Terra Aventura et New Aquitaine video guide.
If the small city was built against winds and tides, it now knows how to benefit from wind power to organize the Festival of the Wind during the Ascension Bridge. Kites invade the sky above the village and challenge walkers from afar.
In summer, every Tuesday evening at nightfall, Talmont lights up by candlelight. The village offers its visitors a subdued and confidential atmosphere to meet artisans. In July, for an evening, a green space on the lands of the Hauts de Talmont hosts the piano recital as part of the festival “A Violin on the City”. With the silhouette of the church in the background, it is a unique moment of grace for the pleasure of the senses.