Saint-Saturnin is a town of Puy-de-Dome, in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, about fifteen kilometers south of Clermont-Ferrand.
The territory of the vast locality of nearly 17 km ² is located between the gorges of the Monne and the valley of the Veyre. The village itself has developed on a basaltic flow of volcanic origin that overlooks the Monne, surrounded by the neighboring peaks of the Regional Natural Park of the Auvergne Volcanoes of which the town is a part.
Saint-Saturnin took off in the Middle Ages when the family of La Tour d'Auvergne built its castle there, which became the political heart of the province and welcomed great personalities like Catherine de Medici. A beautiful Romanesque church is also built. The surroundings of Saint-Saturnin and the hamlet of Chadrat, to the north, however remain agricultural and wine territories.
It remains of this golden age an important architectural heritage and a village center of character, the surrounding countryside offering a preserved landscape and nature. So many elements that make the locality of nearly 1300 inhabitants a stage of interest during a stay in Auvergne.
Formerly surrounded by ramparts, the medieval heart of the village, its narrow and steep streets lined with noble houses, old stalls, or simply winegrowers houses is worth a walk in itself.
However, the two jewels of local heritage justify a more in-depth visit.
We can begin with the castle built in the thirteenth century by the family of the Tower of Auvergne who made it his stronghold and established his court in the fifteenth century. In the meantime, the first defensive castle was enlarged and embellished in a Gothic style. It belongs successively to Catherine de Médicis then to his daughter Marguerite de Valois, known under the name of Queen Margot who offers it in 1605 to the future king Louis XIII. Perfectly restored, the castle is a summary of medieval military architecture with its moat, ramparts and walkway, battlements and machicolations. His park adds to the nobility of the whole. Private property, the site is classified and houses guest rooms, but it is open to visit from late April to September for individuals on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and all year round for groups by appointment. Price: from 5 and 7 euros. Information on +33 4 73 39 39 94. Note that concerts and literary meetings are scheduled in the summer.
We will continue with the church dedicated to Saint-Saturnin, which dates from the twelfth century, and is considered one of the five major Romanesque churches of Auvergne. The set has a pyramidal shape dominated by an octagonal bell tower. The bedside, the massif, the transepts and the side walls are adorned with arches, checkered friezes and rosettes alternating the two local stones used for its construction, black lava and arkose. Inside, capitals are decorated with foliage, human forms and bestiaries. The church houses an early 16th century mural depicting the Annunciation and the resurrection of Lazarus. In the crypt, a 15th century Pietà is also preserved. The church is open every day but guided tours are available in July and August and by appointment the rest of the year at +33 4 73 39 30 13.
In the village, to see again, the old porch giving access to the fort, the rue de la Boucherie where are located a medieval stall and a Renaissance house, the fountain also Renaissance polygonal basin whose decor includes the arms of La Tour d Auvergne, the chapel of the Madeleine, Romanesque style, and the Noble street, which was until the nineteenth century the main communal artery. We admire old houses (from the 16th to the 19th century) and vestiges of the medieval ramparts.
At the level of the hamlet of Chadrat, protected from the winds and formerly surrounded by vines, panels retrace the history of the places and in particular that of the network of the seven fountains arranged in 1902. According to a walk, one will also notice many crosses and, on the dominant plateau Chadrat des Bories (shelters dry stone shepherds).
Guided tours of Saint-Saturnin and the hamlet of Chadrat are offered seasonally. Otherwise, brochures are available to discover the noble heritage or modest (wash, walls...). Many hiking or mountain biking themes (history, nature, wildlife) are also possible including the town and its hilly surroundings. Some take the old road to Santiago de la Via Arvena joining the famous Via Podensis in Cahors. Documentation and information at +33 4 73 39 21 17 from June to September or +33 4 73 79 37 69.
Sports and leisure, again, it is possible to reserve a tennis court in +33 6 99 52 66 01 or fish in the white waters of the Monne. Maps on sale at +33 4 73 79 37 14.
Finally, on the cultural level, the May barn area offers exhibitions and a quality show throughout the year. Information on +33 4 73 39 30 77. As for the House of the Regional Natural Park of the Volcanoes of Auvergne, it organizes activities (hikes, exhibitions, workshops) on the theme of the environment and history of the territory. Contact at +33 4 73 65 64 26.