Saint-Jean-d’Angély is today a town with a vibrant and bustling, part pedestrianised town centre, a twice-weekly market (on Saturdays and Wednesdays) and even a swimming and fitness centre, Atlantys, which is to be found on the edge of the town. Historically, Saint-Jean-d’Angély has seen turbulent times and beneath the streets of the centre is a network of underground caves that were used to hide people during both world wars and, further back in history, during the religious wars.

Royal Abbey Church Saint-Jean-d'Angély

Abbey Church Saint-Jean-d’Angély

Royal Abbey Of Saint-Jean-d’Angély

By far the most well-known and important historical monument of the town is what remains of the abbey church (photo right), now listed as a UNESCO heritage site being on a major medieval pilgrimage route through France. Parts still standing include flying buttresses from the original 15th century church and a rather dramatic facade with two towers. If you have a head for heights, it’s possible to climb the towers from where there is a great view of the town. Although these towers were constructed in the 18th century with the intent that they would form part of a cathedral, work on this building was halted many times due to rising costs and later finally completely abandoned upon the outbreak of the revolution. After the revolution until the year 1878 it was for a while used as a prison. If you’ve got a head for heights, you can climb the steps to the top of the towers for an impressive view of the local area.

Although the abbey church was never finished, the monks did also construct the associated abbey buildings in the 17th century, and these can still be seen as the Royal Abbey. Built in the classical style typical of the 17th century, these buildings are now used as the town library and music school. The Royal Abbey was given its Royal moniker principally because , Louis XIV, the Sun King stayed here when attending a marriage nearby.

Other sites to see in Saint-Jean-d’Angély

La Fontaine du Pilori Saint-Jean-d'Angély

La Fontaine du Pilori

La Fontaine du Pilori at Place du Pilori
This is a highly decorative stone well in the Renaissance style.

La Grosse Horloge at Rue Grosse Horloge
This is a a stone clocktower rebuilt in the 15th century on the spot where one of the original 12th century doors into the town was situated.

Saint-Jean-d’Angély Market
The market at St Jean d’Angély is probably one of the best markets in the whole area. It tends to be open on Wednesday and Saturday and inside the 19th century building are numerous stalls selling fish, and other seafood, locally sourced meat and also stalls for the more health-conscious diet again with local produce such as local honey and vegetables.Outside the market, vendors have stalls selling anything from oysters to plants or even freshly cooked chicken.

Musée des Cordeliers at 9 rue Regnaud
This is a beautifully restored building , with a wide selection of decorative exhibits. Anyone interested in the history of the automobile will particularly find of interest the artefacts documenting visits by the French carmaker Citroën to Africa during the 1920s and 1930s.

The Salle des Fetes for Saint-Jean-d’Angély
This was formally the Salle Aliénor d Aquitaine. The arches which make up the outside of the building came from the Royal Abbey where they were originally cloisters. At the beginning of the 20th century the arches were filled in and the building converted to its current use which often includes concerts and exhibitions.