It is in a meander of the Dronne River, at the gates of the NATURAL PARC OF THE PÉRIGORD LIMOUSIN, that awaits you the beautiful town of BRANTÔME. Nestled on an island between two branches of the Dronne, Brantôme is one of the most beautiful towns in Dordogne. And its abbey, built on the side of a rock face, is worth, on its own, a small detour to discover the one nicknamed The Green Venice of the Perigord.
Brantôme Abbey: 1200 years of history in Périgord
Brantôme’s history goes back to prehistory. The rocky overhangs dug by the Dronne were then used as shelters for men. From this period, one can still admire the dolmen of Peyrelvade. In the 8th century, Benedictine monks imitated prehistoric men and took refuge in the shelter of the Brantôme cliff. The abbey was then founded by King Pépin le Bref, and his son Charlemagne deposited the relics of Saint Sicaire there. Pope Leo III consecrated it at the beginning of the 9th century.
Although destroyed during the Norman invasions at the end of the first millennium, Brantôme Abbey developed in the 10th and 11th centuries. It then acquired a Romanesque-style bell tower. It is still in place and dominates the abbey. It is one of the oldest bell towers in France. History was not always fond of Brantôme Abbey. During the English occupation in the 15th century, in particular, it was partially destroyed. Then rebuilt in a Gothic style. It then continued to expand with the creation of a palace and an abbey garden with Renaissance influences.
Brantôme Abbey has now become a cultural centre with a library and exhibition rooms. The most beautiful is without a doubt the room of the Dorm of the Monks, with the characteristic frame in the shape of a boat hull. You can admire it during your visit to the abbey. In addition to the abbey, you will discover, several hundred meters away, troglodytic remains inherited from the first monastery. This route takes you to the Cave of the Last Judgment, carved from a bas-relief. It is also dug with dovecotes where the monks raised pigeons they enjoyed eating.
Walk in Brantôme
However, the abbey is not the only reason to go to Brantôme. Its history can be read in the beautiful buildings of its old town that oscillate between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The Gate of the Reformed and the Church of Our Lady, in particular, deserve to be seen. In front of the abbey, take the time to go for a walk in the old gardens of the abbey. You will discover the Medici fountain and the Saint Roch tower. In the past, this tower closed the wall of the abbey. A twin tower completed the abbey’s defensive system, but this one disappeared.
A small living town
Although Brantôme has a rich historical heritage, it remains a very lively little town. As soon as the sunny days arrive, the waters of the Dronne are covered with canoes and the terraces of bars and restaurants fill up. For the fullness of Brantôme, choose, if you can, to visit it on Friday morning at its market. This is an opportunity to sample some of the gastronomic specialties of the Périgord.
Brantôme is a small town. There are car parks close to the city centre. You can easily park there and then visit the city on foot. Guided boat rides on the Dronne are also a pleasant way to enjoy the charms of the Venice of the Périgord. In addition to the abbey and the historic centre, these boat tours will also take you outside the city to appreciate the richness of the wildlife of the banks of the Dronne.
More about Brantôme and its region: www.perigord-dronne-belle.fr
Our campsites in Brantôme
A selection of the best campsites for caravans, motorhome and tents, in Brantôme or its surroundings.