Some regions of France are especially rich in Romanesque architecture, and the Saintogne is one of the best. As you move out from Saintes in almost any direction, you are faced with an embarras de richesses.
Corme Royale (1) has a splendid west doorway whose façade (‘un veritable triomphe du décor sculpté’) supports a Gothic tower, whilst Echebrune (2) has another fine west façade, decorated with motifs embracing geometric patterns and vegetation.
The ground plans of their churches are simple, but the finest works are the decoration of the apses of the neighbours at Rioux (3) and Retaud (4), in what has been called the baroque phase of Romanesque. Rioux additionally has an excellent Virgin and Child in a mandorla on the well-sculpted west façade (5).
F. Eygun, Saintogne Romane, Zodiaque, 2nd edition 1979; T. Droste, La France Romane, Guide Arthaud, 1989; A. Verassel, Églises romanes: France-Belgique: Le guide, 1998. ND