Melle, Poitou-Charentes: tourism & sightseeing
Visit Melle (Poitou-Charentes, France)
The town of Melle is to the north of the Poitou-Charentes region, inland from La Rochelle and south-east of Niort, in the Deux-Sèvres department.
Melle is a lively, bustling town on one of the more important pilgrimage routes to Santiago di Compostella and with all facilities such as supermarkets, banks and restaurants. The town is is best known for having three fine examples of roman-style churches, constructed in the 11th-12th centuries.
The churches of Melle
1) the church of Saint-Hilaire is notable especially for the large amount of ornamentation and carvings in the facade, for example the sculpture of the horse and rider above one of the entry doors. The church of Saint-Hilaire was partly built in the late 11th century and partly in the middle of the 12th century and is the highlight of the three churches in Melle, although all deserve to be visited
2) the church of Saint-Savinien, which plays host to annual music festival each summer and is the oldest of the three churches
3) the church of Saint-Pierre, with a chevet that is particularly decorative
Apart from this 'triade romane' of churches other sites to visit in Melle include the old lavoir (washhouses), and the Hotel de Menoc is another interesting building, with 15th century towers and an interesting facade rebuilt in the 19th century in neo-gothic style.
There is also an arboretum to explore, with a six kilometre walk that introduces many different species of trees as it follows the route of an old railway track.
When you visit Melle be sure to try the local speciality, a goat's cheese called chabichou - or even better, buy some at the Friday market if possible, the best and liveliest time to visit the town.
One kilometre outside the town at Le Loubeau you can see the remains of the silver mines that once made Melle the centre of the Mint for France. The "mines d'argent des rois francs" ("silver mines of the French Kings) were active from the 7th century onwards and guided tours are available, although only 350 metres of tunnels can be visited out of a total of more than 30 kilometres!
You can find more local travel ideas in the Poitou-Charentes guide.
Map of Melle and places to visit
Visit near Melle with France This Way reviews
Address: Melle, Niort, Deux-Sevres, Poitou-Charentes, 79500, France || GPS: latitude 46.222, longitude -0.143
Plan your visit to Melle, Poitou-Charentes
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Arboretum du chemin de la découverte: remarkable garden
- Melle église St Hilaire (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site
- Zoodyssée: zoo or wildlife park (21km)
- Eglise de Saint-Brice (Saint-Mande-sur-Bredoire): religious monument (25km)
- Eglise de Saint-Pierre (Dampierre-sur-Boutonne): religious monument (27km)
- Aulnay église St Pierre (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (28km)
- Eglise de Notre-Dame (Lusignan): religious monument (31km)
- Eglise de Saint André (Ruffec): religious monument (34km)
Market days in Melle, France
Regular market(s) are held in Melle each Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Melle (Francais)