Domme - a beautiful Dordogne town set high above the river
Unusually among the bastide towns, Domme retains part of its original fortified walls and the gateways into the town. The ramparts are extremely thick and there remain three of the original doors.
The Porte des Tours is perhaps the most impressive, with its round towers but the Porte de la Combe and the Porte del Bos are both very pretty and are reached by walking down really lovely streets lined with a mixed array of houses and cottages all in the lovely honey-coloured stone distinctive to this region.
The towers of the Porte des Tours were converted into prisons in 1307 when the Knights Templers were arrested by the king, and it is still possible to see the engraved crucifixes they carved whilst they were imprisoned. The prison is open throughout the year.
You can walk round the ramparts on the south side of the town between the Port del Bos and the Porte de la Combe. There are some great views across the countryside (and glimpses of some very impressive houses and gardens built just inside the ramparts).
The tourist office of Domme can be found on the main square - the Place de la Halle. I have to say they were not very helpful and their town map whilst it locates various buildings in the town it provides no information about them whatsoever! Still, pick up the map and you will ensure you see all the main sights.
The tourist office and Mairie are located in the very impressive Maison du Gouverneur on the Place de la Halle. This is the main part of the town and as well as admiring the beautiful 13th century buildings (the bastide was founded in 1281 by Philip the Bold) you can find the entrance to the Grottes de Domme.
The caves (grottes) have been used in the past to shelter the town's inhabitants during the Hundred Years' War, though the upper part was only discovered in 1954. There are more than 400m of stalactite filled galleries and a glass lift takes you back up to the surface.
Just above the Place de la Halle is the Belvedere de la Barre, a great viewpoint and the start of the Promenade des Falaises - a short walk leading to a public park. The walk is all high up above the River Dordogne and so the views are splendid. Parts of the walk are bordered by remains of the fortified walls that surrounded parts of Domme. The Jardin Public at the end is a good place for a picnic. A little further along is the Moulin du Roy.
In the town look out for the old convent, the Couvent des Augustins (though this can only really be seen in summer) and the Maison du batteur de monnaie du Roy where money was minted in the Middle Ages. Now a pleasant cafe and a nice spot to sit out and admire the surrounding buildings.
From the main square, the Place de la Halle wander down the adjacent streets. All of them reveal interesting architecture ranging from colombage buildings, to steep perigordine roofs, to small turrets and also some of them lead to the different stone gateways in the walls surrounding Domme.
Domme has a little tourist 'train', the Domme Express which is very popular with children.
Domme is larger than many of the bastide towns in the region, and because it is found perched high above the Dordogne River, with magnificent views over the river and surrounding countryside it is a 'must' if you are exploring the Dordogne region
Despite large numbers of tourists Domme is one of our absolute favourite Dordogne towns (even if you do have to pay to park, even in the middle of winter!).
Note that the town is classified as 'one of the most beautiful villages in France'
The Grotte de Domme entrance is under the halle in the main square. The huge caves exist under the whole town and during the visit you can see beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations. They are the biggest caves in the Perigord Noir area. At the end of the visit a lift takes you to a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the Dordogne valley.
The caves are open from the beginning of February to the 11th November plus the December school holidays. In the quiet season visits might be cancelled if there are not enough people.
February, March, October, November, December. : 11.00-12.00 and 14h30-16h30
April, May: 10.00-12.00 and 14.30-17.30
June, September: 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-18.00
July, August: 10-00-18.40
Things to do in Domme
As well as the caves Domme has various other attractions:
Le Petit Train - Domme has a little tourist train which travels around the key points of interest in the town. The trip is accompanied by an audio-commentary. Le Petit Train runs from the 1st April to the 31st October.
L'Oustal du Perigord is a museum housed in one of the lovely buildings on the main square. Inside the museum are lots of items relating to life in the Perigord during the last century.
One of the best days to visit Domme is on Thursday which is market day.
Places to Visit Nearby
Domme is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the Dordogne and is close to other most beautiful villages such as La Roque Gageac and Beynacas well as the fabulous town of Sarlat on the other side of the river - indeed you can see La Roque Gageac from the Belvedere de la barre in Domme.
Map of Domme with places to visit
To visit close to Domme
This page in French: Domme (version Francais)