I have been discovering more Roman era sites in the region. Hardly a surprise perhaps, since the Roman presence goes back more than 2,000 years, but some are very little known to wider world. Adding to my visit to Saintes, I have been able to see the site at Fâ, to the south of Royan on the right bank of the Gironde and also the strange little site at Brion, on the other side.

In those days the sea level was a little higher and various inlets along the Gironde made for ideal ports. Over the years the inlets gradually silted up, trade moved elsewhere and the once thriving towns abandoned, probably in the 4th century.

This is the site at Fâ. To the south of Royan, this was once the town of Novioregus according to some records.

There are plenty of photos out there already, so I took only a few. This is the 1/10th scale model of a large public building, the remains of which are behind it. To the left of the portico were small shops or taverns, there is also a room which might have been the meeting place of a private club of local worthies. To the right are the public toilets and at the rear a kind of open air gym and the extensive public baths.


The area of the baths has been partially restored to show the heating and drainage systems. The archaeologist did say that some small liberties have been taken to better show the site.


The remains of a much later windmill sit on top of the temple mound.


Among various other exhibits is a replica of a brick kiln.


Something I didn’t know about Roman traffic management! At a sharp corner of one of the roads are the ancient equivalent of high kerbs. These were laid to prevent chariots and carts infringing into pedestrian zones.


The site is now a couple of kilometres inland but in Roman times an inlet roughly where the houses now stand formed the port area. Under the fields are the remains of many warehouses and a residential district. It was evidently a prosperous area, as it still is.


It’s not an easy place to get to without a car. It’s a 30 minute walk from the nearest bus stop, at the village of Talmont. The official website is which is in French and English. During the summer school holidays various events and activities for children are available.

The second place I visited was the site at Brion, near Lesparre. The archaeologist who showed us around the Fâ site suggested I take a look. There was some information to be found, so off I went on a train to Lesparre with the rented bike. The location is in the middle of nowhere near the village of St Germain-d’Esteuil, about 9km south-east of the town of Lesparre. The last few minutes of the trip is along an unmade gravel track through some fields.

My surprise when I arrived is that the site is just there. Sat in the middle of some fields are the remains of a theatre, a small forum and some houses. There is no fence, no gate, no visitor centre, the place is just there. Like the other site, once this as a port town but for the same reason it was abandoned and mostly disappeared.  A farmhouse was built of the material from the theatre and sits on top of it, but the semi circle of the theatre building can still be seen. Some areas that were excavated have been covered over to preserve them.


Below, the foundations of one of the houses has been left open to view.


This road is partly formed by natural rock, on the surface. Below, part of the outer wall of the theatre.


The picture above is part of the theatre’s seating area with the entrance to the stairway just visible.


The area as a whole is now of vineyards and wine production. My route from and back to Lesparre station took me past about a dozen.


Roman sites in Aquitaine

Tagged: on August 9, 2019 by cubsur51

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Soulac sur mer beach 4th August 2019

A better day weatherwise, although cloudy this afternoon. Pictures of the town’s beach taken late morning with the tide going out. The sea retreats about 300 metres at low tide.


Soulac sur mer beach 4th August 2019

Tagged: , on August 4, 2019 by cubsur51



Saintes is one of those provincial French towns where nothing much seems to have happened since the revolution. I spotted that the town had some interesting Roman era remains, so I made the trip requiring a 20 minute bike ride, a 20 minute ferry trip and a 30 minute train ride. I was pleased that I did.

Saintes was an important town in the first and second centuries AD, but rapidly declined. It has one of the more substantial sets of remains of a Roman amphitheatre in northern Europe. I had no idea until earlier this week!

A couple of sample pictures :



This is the Arch of Germanicus, once the main entrance to the town and rescued from demolition in the late 19th century. To be honest it looks at close quarters to be a bit of a mixture of old and new. The wires are part of a recent sound and light show.


Also in the town is a huge crypt under an ancient church. Among the saintly and holy is this demon. If I recall correctly, a demon is needed to remind the others of what they against!


For the time being the other pictures are at

I will annotate them as soon as I can.

Wikipedia article –,_Charente-Maritime

Visit to Saintes, France, 30th July 2019

Tagged: , , , on August 1, 2019 by cubsur51

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A little trip by air around the Point du Médoc

A local flying club had an open day today, Sunday 28th. They were offering short sight-seeing flights around the area. It was a nice day, so why not? This was my first flight in a small plane, a tiny thing, like a taxi with wings.  It was a Robin, not sure which actual model –

Apologies for the quality of some pictures. I was in the back seat and we were being tossed around a bit. Also we did go over a couple of places more than once in the 20 minutes airborne. Here is my plane, being refuelled prior to take-off.


Various other fairly bizarre flying machines are based there.



There is a lot of water which cannot be seen when on the ground. At the top is the estuary of the Gironde river.


Much of the area was reclaimed from the sea with the help of Dutch engineers. Cereals and sunflowers are grown. There are also quite of a lot of cattle happily grazing.


Parts of the area are still heavily wooded. This is looking north-west. The yellow strip top left is the Cordouan sandbank, which was once an island. Below that you can probably work out that the gap between sea on one side and reclaimed land on the other is a matter of a few hundred metres.


This is the dock at Le Verdon, sometimes used as a resupply stop by cruise ships that cannot get further down the river to Bordeaux. The port otherwise has virtually no commercial function these days, owing to poor road connections and a lack of willingness to use the railway that is still in situ and runs right into the port.


Some of the houses of the village of Le Verdon and a view of the estuary. Across the water is the popular seaside town of St. Palais.


The relatively new Port Médoc marina at the bottom and the older harbour top right.


The village of Le Verdon with its once busy railway station in plain view. The curve bottom left is the disused line to the port, to the right the line goes to Pointe de Grave and the little station there, which has only five trains a day for just two months of the year.


High over the estuary with the two ferries crossing in mid-stream. In the background is the town of Royan.


The Cordouan lighthouse and sandbank. Boat trips go to the lighthouse and sandbank from Le Verdon and Royan. Times are according to the tides.


The ferry is heading for Royan harbour. Next to it can be seen the long and very popular beach.


The beach at Le Verdon. In 1945 this was one of the most heavily fortified areas in France. Many buildings remain.


We wheeled over the point and headed towards Soulac, the smudge on the right. This  picture clearly shows how much the sea is eroding the coast where there are no defences. It’s estimated that in some areas the sea is advancing 4.5 metres every year. That small gap between sea and ‘polder’ can be seen.


The ‘cruise port’ at Le Verdon and the Port Médoc once again.


Cordouan lighthouse.


The beach to the north of Soulac. The road is the D1215. The small rectangle on the beach is one of the German fortification blockhouses. It was rather further from the sea when it was built!


Agricultural land to the north-east of Soulac.


The northern end of Soulac. Among the trees near the beach are many more remains of World War Two fortifications. Most pointed the wrong way, anticipating an attack from the sea. They came by land.


Some of the sea defences built in the 1930’s can be seen. They are slowly being battered  down by the waves.


Soulac sur mer, with the ancient basilique church centre left.


The ill-fated Résidence du Signal. When built around 40 years ago it was was 200 metres from the sea. It is now being demolished, the sea having now come up to the very door at high tide.


The southern end of the town of Soulac sur mer. The casino is the modern building in the very bottom left hand corner.


The beach at L’Amélie, couple of km to the south of Soulac. This picture shows the range of defences required to keep the sea back here. But they say those houses don’t have many years left.


The broad sweep of the beaches south of Soulac which stretch for many, many unbroken miles.


We turned back to the south of Soulac, giving this nice view of the whole area with the estuary and Royan on the far side.


Back across the prosperous farmland. The area is criss-crossed by canals and ditches. Cycle paths have been built on many of the embankments between the fields.


The aerodrome.


Final approach from the south-east.


Over the railway.


Across the fields…


And coming down to land.


Thanks to the Aeroclub Royan et Soulac for the flight.


Cycling back to Soulac I spotted this odd looking boat which I was told is used to clear weeds from the canals and ditches. It didn’t look too happy sitting in the mud at low tide!


A little trip by air around the Point du Médoc

Tagged: , , on July 28, 2019 by cubsur51

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Soulac sur mer food fair 27 July 2019

There was a nice little food fair last night in the square outside the historic church. Numerous stalls selling various ethnic and traditional food, beer, wine and champagne also. I have to say that the biggest queue was at the burger stand but they did look very nice. I had a dish of araignée de porc, a variant on the asian recipe at

It had finally stopped raining mid afternoon, this first picture was taken at about 1900hrs.








Shortly before sunset, the beach was deserted. Many people always come to watch the sun go down. Perhaps that’s a relic of ancient times when prayers would be offered to make sure it came back the following day.


About 15 minutes before sunset but then the clouds got in the way.


Soulac sur mer food fair 27 July 2019

Tagged: , , , on July 28, 2019 by cubsur51

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Wet and windy in the Médoc

Two days of fairly constant rain now, not too heavy but enough to be annoying.

Le Verdon again, quite a contrast this morning to earlier in the week.




Wet and windy in the Médoc

Tagged: , , on July 27, 2019 by cubsur51

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It’s been cleaned up nicely since I last saw it. Had a nice ride around the area before it became seriously too hot on Wednesday and Thursday. But since midnight last night it has been raining almost continously and the temperature has dropped by about 12ºC.


Church at Talais

Tagged: on July 26, 2019 by cubsur51

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