Our French sister-in-law had recommended we visit St Savin, a town that wasn’t on our radar and one we could easily have missed. It was an absolute delight and we would likewise recommend it to you.
One of the town’s main draws is the stunning Unesco World Heritage listed Abbey of Saint-Savin dating from the 11th century. The interior is decorated with a magnificent collection of Romanesque murals, commissioned by the Benadictine monks, which make up the largest collection of murals in Europe. The artwork has been and continues to be painstakingly restored over many years. It is considered both a ‘masterpiece of the genuis of man’ and ‘testimony of a vanished civilisation’. Not only does the Abbey have an impressive interior, the setting is unbeatable too, right on the banks of the river Gartempe which passes through the town. There is no official motorhome parking in the town and had it been busy we would have parked outside, but as it was there was plenty of space in the main town car park right in front of the Abbey.
It was late afternoon when we arrived but the sun was out and there were several watering holes, cafes and small restaurants within sight as we parked. A place busy with locals is always a good bet so we chose a nice place with some outside seating, sat down and quenched our thirst with a cool, afternoon beer to get a feel for the place and we have to say we liked it immediately. It’s funny how that happens sometimes. Before you’ve even explored you just seem to know you’re going to like it. The buildings are a lovely pale stone, some with bold or pastel painted shutters, decorative edgings and stonework, tall narrow rooflines and a truly authentic French feel about it.
Our favourite part of the town was the dreamy riverside setting. The 13th century pointed arch bridge over the gently rippling water provided the perfect backdrop to the picture perfect scene. I’ve never been an artist, but as I walked over the bridge a feeling came over me that I’ve never had before and I could just imagine sitting there, paintbrush in hand trying to paint a picture. It’s the sort of place that makes your shoulders drop, as you take a deep breath, relax and just take in the beautiful serenity of it. The bridge has been listed as a historical monument since 1896 and which be preserved and looked after for future generations to enjoy.
In one direction we walked along the riverbank and came across a stunning grassy bank fringed with bright red poppies and wild flowers. It’s such a pretty place with beautiful buildings, an old mill house and the long length of the outer walls of the Abbey grounds stretching along it which looks huge from the other side of the bridge.
St Savin is quite a small place so it doesn’t take long to walk around and come full circle. When we got back feeling rather peckish, we chose a different place to go and had a tasty burger as a special treat for Julian (his favourite)!
There were a couple of attractive properties for sale in the town which we always find interesting. Often we’ll take a photo of a house on sale and look it up online later, purely out of curiosity and find out how much it is. When travelling we often ask ourselves if we could live somewhere because although we often love a place we couldn’t imagine living there. St Savin is somewhere you could imagine spending a lazy retirement with everything you need and plenty of places to go nearby. It’s the sort of place that makes you feel that everything’s right in the world even though you know it’s not.