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Nontron is the official centre of the Perigord Vert region of the northern Dordogne, and is well placed for exploring the region. The Regional Natural parc of the Perigord-Limousin is to the north of the town.
Nontron is set up high and has some excellent views over the valley of Bandiat. It has a quiet but pleasant centre with a number of interesting buildings to admire. To see columbage (half-timbered) buildings walk along the Rue Picaud or the Rue des Ecoles and walk along the Rue de Periguex for remains of the town ramparts.
The town has some interesting Renaissance buildings the best of which is the Hotel d'Albret on the Rue Camille-Chabaneau. There are various sculptures on the facade and inside there is a lovely stone spiral staircase. The house was built in the 15-16th centuries for Alain d'Albret, the great-great grandfather of Henry IV.
The main part of town centres around the mairie set in a large open square with a fountain in the middle. From here head past the Espace des Arts, housed in a chateau, inside are Art exhibitions and a boutique. Further on at Place Albert is the workshop and boutique of the famous Nontron knives and this can be visited throughout the year. Nontron has been making knives since the 15th century.
From here there are great views across to the rest of Nontron as well as of the valley and the lovely public gardens which wind their way down the steep slope to the river below.
The Jardins des Arts have various attractive contemporary creations including benches winding around a group of trees and various sculptures.
The market in Nontron takes place on a Saturday morning and this is a particularly nice and animated time to visit the town.
Nontron knives are famous throughout France and Nontron is one of the oldest knife-making institutions in France. The workshop is well worth visiting and whilst here it is possible to see the knives being made and engraved and polished. Table knifes and pocket knives are made here as well as cutlery sets.
Famous for its classic wooden handle but more contemporary styles and designs are also made and sold in the workshop.
Every year in August there is a knife festival when exhibitors from around the world come to display their knives here. This usually takes place the first weekend of August.
There are some curious rock formations a few kilometres out of town at Roc Poperdu and Roc Branlant. The medieval village at Bussiere-Badil and the picturesque village and chateau at Varaignes are worth a visit if you are in the area.
Brantome is one of our favourite towns in the Dordogne area and should definitely not be missed. It lies on the bend of a river and is very beautiful.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.