Monday, 12 June 2017

Talmont-sur-Gironde and the Gallo-Roman site of Le Fa.

Talmont-sur-Gironde is a small commune in the department of Charente-Maritime in southwestern France, on the eastern side of the mouth of the wide Gironde estuary.

The enclosed and fortified village, situated on a peninsula, was founded around a church in 1284, according to orders issued by  Edward I of England, who  controlled that part of France at that time. The church (of which more later), then about 200 years old, was the only building  standing in that isolated spot. The village became a focus for pilgrims journeying from the north of France to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. It survived the long wars of the Middle Ages, but in 1652, it was destroyed by the Spanish and had to be rebuilt!

An aerial shot of Talmont as it is today, photo copied from a post card, as I don't have a drone!! The ancient church and its cemetery can be see on the cliff edge, to the right.

A photo of the lovely B and B where we stayed, taken from the other side of a watery inlet.

One of the narrow traffic-free streets of the village, which is on the list of the most beautiful in France. It's a real tourist destination in summer and many of the little houses have been converted into shops and cafes.

I was fascinated by this magical water tap!

The Mairie (Mayor's office), a focus in every French village.

An interesting doorway, formed with old dressed stones no doubt "liberated" from older, grander, residences which haven't survived!

An old religious artefact recovered from a grander building and thoughtfully incorporated into a restored wall  of one of the village houses.

The church dedicated to Sainte Radegonde, a 6th century religious figure, was built in 1094.

Simple stonework inside the church.

An ancient arch or doorway. Moving on, we arrive at Le Fa..........

What some scholars think might be the town of Novioregum, or Le Fa as the French now call it in the absence of complete proof as to its identity, is in the present day commune of Barzan, very close to Talmont. The extensive archaelogical excavations started in 1975 have revealed a small town, considered to be one of the most important Gallo-Roman trading ports on the Atlantic coast. The Roman stone walling at the base in this photo formed the foundations of an ancient Roman temple called the Sanctuary.


The ruins of a windmill built on the old Roman base. The whole town seems to have been razed to the ground some time in the 4th or 5th centuries A.D., the remains being buried in sand dunes and lost to memory.


Excavations revealing walls forming the rooms of the thermal baths. More excavations are in progress with the hope of uncovering relics which might identify the mystery town.

A reconstructed hypocaust - Roman underfloor heating! Hot air from a nearby fireplace, stoked with wood by slaves, was channelled through the underfloor cavity, warming the stone floor slabs on its way.

An oven used in the manufacture of ceramics, partly restored.

Reproduction of an original mosaic found in the the Roman villa at Séviac, further south in  France.

9 comments:

  1. What an excellent post Diane.. I remember when I was very young I was so sure I was going to be an archaeologist when I grew up.. how I wish I hadn't been distracted from that.. old and ancient architecture and how people lived in it is endlessly fascinating!

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    1. My husband also had thoughts about archaeology but ended up as a QS! There is so much history around us way back to the Romans, it would be interesting to go on a dig. Hope you are well Diane

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  2. A beautiful town Diane. Fascinating reading about the excavations and the underfloor heating. Thank you for another super post.

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    1. Denise I wish in winter we had under floor heating but it will never happen. At the moment it is the last thing on our minds though:-) Keep well Diane

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  3. My goodness! What I would give to be able to explore these amazing villages, churches, and ruins in person. I am so very thankful you share them with us.

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    1. We do our best, thankfully Nigel is great at research which is a huge help. It would be great if you could explore the places here. Diane

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  4. Hi Diane - must have missed it for some reason ... these look stunning, as your photos always are!, but I'll need to be back to read ... see you soon - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary glad to see you back with me again, hope you enjoy when you have time to return. Diane

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    2. I am back now getting the feeds - incredible buildings - that church ... harsh, yet beautiful. A drone - a good present for Nigel?! I'm sure they'll find out so much more history now with the technology available - so much is buried in sand. Cheers Hilary

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