Candes-Saint-Martin collegiate church, Indre-et-Loire visitors guide
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The collegiale church of Candes-Saint-Martin is an important church in the centre of the village of Candes-Saint-Martin, which is in the heart of the Loire Valley and on the banks of the Loire river to the east of Saumur.
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France This Way comment: this church is quite remarkable because of the architecture and its many statues and carvings from medieval times
Saint-Martin was originally a bishop in the town of Tours who died in 397 AD, and after his death many pilgrims were attracted to Candes, including several Kings. As a result, a church has stood here since the end of the 4th century, although nothing remains of that ancient structure.
In the 9th century the local monks established a settlement here and ruled the village on behalf of the Archishop of Tours. It was at this time that the earliest parts of the church we see today were built, although most of the church was built in the 12th century and additions and transformations continued until the 15th century.
Among the most important changes were those that took place in the 15th century, after the Hundred Years War, when the church was fortified. This included the addition of towers, a staircase along the edge of the roof (that you can see from the side of the church), and a watchtower.
Several restorations have also taken place over the last 500 years, including a significant amount of rebuilding after part of the roof collapsed during an earthquake in 1711: this is when the belltower was added to the centre of the church and explains why parts of the interior are in a different style from the main church.
The style of the church has several names, with 'gothic plantagenet' the most common, after the lords who once controlled the region. Others include 'gothic angevin' (named for the historical region where Candes-Saint-Martin was situated) and 'western gothic' because it is a style associated with the west of France
The front of the church is quite simple, but made interesting by the two rows of statues that decorate the facade. Although many of these are defaced, and in several places you see the original stone blocks that were never carved you can still see many statues of the saints.
The most remarkable feature of the collegiate church in Candes-Saint-Martin is the entrance and the porch, which is on the north wall (not the west side, which is more common). Inside the porch there is a single column that helps support an elegant ribbed vault ceiling, as well as another row of statues along the wall.
The west side is also interesting, with rows of columns and blind arches as well as small statues incorporated below the cornice along the wall.
Although the inside of the church is less remarkable than the entrance porch, you can see several statues, tombstones and stained glass windows, paintings and an altar.
You can explore the village of Candes-Saint-Martin - listed among the most beautiful villages in France - and walk along the river to the village of Montsoreau, dominated by the Chateau of Montsoreau which is now a Museum of Contemporary art.
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Collegiale Church (Candes-Saint-Martin): religious monument
- Candes-Saint-Martin: most beautiful village
- Montsoreau: most beautiful village
- Fontevraud Abbey: national monument (4 km)
- Abbaye Notre Dame de Fontevraud (Fontevraud Abbey): religious monument (4 km)
- Loire-Anjou-Touraine: regional natural parc (4 km)
- Saumur: secteur sauvegarde (13 km)
- Chinon: secteur sauvegarde (14 km)
- Montreuil-Bellay: recommended detour (19 km)
- Aquarium de Loudun: aquarium (22 km)
- Loudun: recommended detour (22 km)
- Les jardins du château du Rivau: remarkable garden (24 km)
The French version of this page is at Candes-Saint-Martin collegiate church (Francais)