Aside from great wine and sophisticated food, France is also known for its quaint villages and medieval towns. The countryside has that distinct rustic quality that everyone loves; white washed buildings, colorful shutters, intricate details and the smell of freshly baked brioche just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That’s what the French countryside is all about and I have fallen head over heels with it. (maybe that’s why I’m with a Frenchie?) Just an hours drive north of Bordeaux is a charming, little city called Saintes. (Pronounced “SANT”)
Saintes is where my partner, Matt, spent his last years in France. He never told me how beautiful this city is. He always just said “There’s not much to do”, well, true enough, there isn’t really much to do indeed compared to the big cities like Paris and Bordeaux. Not to mention there isn’t much people either. Driving through the city center, it literally took us 30 minutes to see everything. It was so pretty; my jaw dropped the entire time because its beauty stunned me. From the cathedrals, to the town hall, every corner was just WOW!
It is a very picturesque, intimate city that has a bit of Roman influence sprinkled in some areas like the Amphitheatre and the Arc. The city has only 2 main roads that intersect each other so it’s pretty hard to get lost here. Like every European city, the Charente river divides this place in two. The west side is where the happenings are like the array of shops, bars, offices and basically all the places to visit while the east side is more residential.
His parents have a beautiful house here and by beautiful I mean, that typical French country house I’ve only ever seen in movies. It’s a bungalow that’s covered in vines, their windows are covered with blue shutters and their garden’s landscaping is just so cute. Saintes was all about spending time with family and friends. Unwinding and relaxing by the pool with drinks and amazing food. It’s the best to be with locals because we didn’t have the pressure of doing so much like most of our trips.
It was Antoine’s and my first time in their lovely home so to welcome us as a family, Matt’s mom hosted a party with 40 guests. I met Matt’s bestfriends who he’s been friends with since kindergarten, a lot of their relatives, neighbours and close friends. It was a great time but there was a huge language barrier. My basic French was apparently too basic and they also didn’t speak much English but we all had a common ground…alcohol. A few sips of Champagne and I felt like I was fluent in French (haha)
Jean Jacques loves his motorbikes and wanted to take me for a ride. I’ve never ridden on the back of a bike before. It was amazing feeling that adrenaline rush through my body when he accelerated from 50-120K in a matter of seconds. It was a great way to see the fields and vineyards.
Matt showed me where he used to go to school and where he used to play football and it was a bit nostalgic for me. On our last night, he took me to a romantic dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant for our 2nd anniversary and it was a perfect way to end our stay in stunning Saintes.