Wednesday, April 01, 2009

St Savin sur Gartempe - June 2, 2008

Saint-Savin sur Gartempe is a tiny town in the Vienne department which just happens to have a campground, hence our arrival there. While driving there, we had encountered a variety of cyclists along the road, all with their bicycles heavily laden with bulging panniers and the like. Shortly after we got settled at the campground, we learned what was causing those bulges when the entire clutch of cyclists arrived, spread out across the meadow, extracted their camping gear and proceeded to build their tent village. Our humbling realization was, if we had been in the group, we would have been the youngest guys there! By the time we looked out next morning, the cyclists had decamped and departed, enabling us to chalk up the entire event to our imagination.There are conflicting accounts of the origins of St-Savin. It seems to have got its start during the 8th century when Baidilius, Abbot of Marmoutier, ordered a church built to shelter a couple of 5th century martyrs, Savin and Cyprian, that he said he "found". As luck would have it, Charlemagne happened along shortly afterward and built a castle just down the street, effectively protecting the church from a Viking pillage or two. The crypt of the original church survives in the present Abbey Church which itself was rebuilt in the 11th century. The spire was added in the 14th century and the entire complex has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. See here for more pictures.

1 comment:

A. said...

And to think you were just along the road from where we live! St Savin was something of a revelation for me when I first saw it - I had no idea such a wonderful church existed nearby. It's not well publicised.