Art and Literature in and about Saint Saens
By Philip on in Normandy, Saint Saens
If you enter Normandy by Dieppe or are passing close to the medieval town of Rouen, you are in the orbit of Saint Saens – a delightful little town thirty five minutes south of Dieppe. The town nestles beneath the massive Eawy forest – the erstwhile hunting ground of among others, Winston Churchill and Coco Chanel.
Sadly the hunting lodge in the Parc Alamazan, opposite us, where such dignitaries stayed, was burnt down when occupied by the Germans during the last war. Memories however, of those hunting parties are kept alive by the Park’s present livery stables, so that the streets of Saint Saens often echo to the sympathetic clip of horses’ hooves.
Astride the Paris – Dieppe road, the old Relais de Poste is still operational as stabling.
It is reasonable to imagine a wide variety of distinguished artists and visitors to Dieppe, such as Monet, Camille Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, Helleu, Beardsley, Whistler and Conder, as well as Sickert and the French writer Jacques-Emile Blanche – all at one time passing through Saint Saens.
Similarly, in Saint Saens you are in literary country. A visit to nearby Ry – made famous (or infamous) by Madame Bovary – prompts one to picture her coach winding through the apple blossomed lanes.
Likewise Guy de Maupassant roamed this part of Normandy.
The Beaux Arts museum in Rouen holds the second largest collection of impressionist painting outside Paris.
A bed and breakfast stop in Saint Saens is a pause in a charming and intimate little market town. There is a choice of small local restaurants – all unpretentious and very French.
Several of the stained glass windows (dating from the 16thC) in the saint Saens parish church, are listed as historic monuments. They were fortuitously saved from the previous church.
A stroll around Saint Saens is well rewarded.
Four miles away, north of the forest, is the only VI site in France open to the public.