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town, Charente-Maritime departement, Poitou-Charentes region, western France. It lies along the Charente River, 47 miles (76 km) southeast of La Rochelle. Saintes was the administrative centre of the Charente Inferieure departement (now Charente-Maritime) from 1791 until La Rochelle supplanted it in 1810. Its bishopric was suppressed during the French Revolution in the late 18th century.