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Brantome is an attractive town near the northern edge of the Dordogne department, sometimes known as the Venice of the Dordogne (slight exaggeration strictly speaking) - the town has a nice mix of medieval and renaissance architecture to admire. The town is classed as one of 'les Plux Beaux Detours' in France.
The Benedictine Abbey on the river's edge is superb and this along with the old stone bridge, weir and pretty mill now turned into a splendid hotel and restaurant all make for a very photogenic scene.
Look inside the abbey as well (built by Charlemagne in 769 and the main historical highlight of the town) and at the troglodyte section behind the abbey including the famous cave of the 'Last Judgement'. These are the remains of the original abbey and during the summer you can do a night-time visit of the troglodyte section - very atmospheric.
At the other end of the abbey are an attractive Renaissance Tower and the round Tour St Roch. These formed part of the defenses of the southern part of the abbey whilst the Porte des Reformes defended the northern side.
The church belfry in Brantome was built in the 11th century and is the oldest to be found in France, it stands on a rocky outcrop at the bottom of a cliff.
The Church of Saint Pierre is also worth admiring, with certain parts dating back to the 15th century (especially part of the cloisters) as is the bridge that crosses the river, and provides a good vantage point to admire the town.
It is above all the situation of Brantome on the river Dronne, that encircles a large part of the town, and the steep wooded slopes around the town, that add most to its attraction. The river is calm and gentle at this point, covered with water lilies, and sheltered by weeping willows.
It is very pleasant to walk along the edge of the river and through the river-side gardens. Brantome really is one of the most attractive towns of the Dordogne area and well worth a trip.
Canoes can be hired at Brantome for a relaxing glide along the river (a favourite with adults and children).
Brantôme market day is Friday and on Friday's Brantome is particularly animated and colourful!
Brantome - things to do
Hire a canoe for half a day or a day and enjoy this lovely stretch of the river.
Visit the Peyrelevade Dolmen on the right bank of the river, a preserved megalithic monument.
There is a garden to visit at Brantome - the Jardins Tranquille. This runs along the edge of the river and is very pretty.
Visit the Musee Fernand-Desmoulin with works by Fernand Desmoulin a painter and illustrator of novels in the early 20th century whose paintings include a number when he was a key spiritual artist at the height of the movement. The museum is situated in the convent of the abbey.
Places to Visit Nearby
On the river Cole to the north-east of Brantome, two attractive villages are to be found - La Chapelle-Faucher and St-Jean-de-Cole - that warrant a visit, and then nearby at Thiviers there is an interesting 'Roman style' church.
Continue another 10km north through the forests of northern Dordogne and you will reach the fairy-tale chateau de Jumilhac.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.