The Village

The medieval settlement of Saint Benoit du Sault is built on a granite rock overlooking the valley of the Portefeuille. The Benedictine Priory (hence Saint Benoit) dates from the 11th Century; beside it stands the Romanesque church, which is still used. The character of the village with its ancient buildings and narrow twisting streets, is little changed.

The pace of life in Saint Benoit is blissfully slow. There is little traffic and noise pollution tends to consist of a dog barking across the valley or the bleating of a baby goat. The rhythm of life is determined by the changing seasons, local feast days and the French determination to live well rather than fast.

There are good local shops, including a boulangerie, excellent butcher, traiteur, Maison de la Presse, epicerie. There are also two banks, a chemist and Post Office. On the edge of the village is Super U, which as the only supermarket for miles around draws people in from the surrounding hamlets and villages. The stade is a ten minute walk away, encompassing a football pitch, tennis court and basketball area.

There is a bar, a couple of cafés and two restaurants – a so-so pizzeria and a friendly auberge.

The village changes with the seasons. Winters are cold. Colour returns to the landscape in April when the valley bursts into brilliant white blossom and the wooded hillside turns green.

Summers are generally hot.  During July and August, families arrive from Paris and the village hosts concerts by touring choirs and musicians in the church.  July 15th is Bastille Day, which is celebrated with fireworks, while early August sees a big sheep fair that resembles a scene from Thomas Hardy, albeit lubricated by red wine rather than cider. The Feast of the Assumption in the days around 15 August is the summer’s major fête with a street market, dodgems, and a communal dinner under the trees.

Autumn is quieter and from October the weather turns cool. But it’s perhaps the most spectacular time of year with the leaves turning crimson, orange and ochre – the perfect time for walking in the countryside around Saint Benoit.