Saint Cyprien, Dordogne; a charming town dominated by its abbey church

Photo of Saint Cyprien

Visit Saint Cyprien

Saint Cyprien is situated on the hillside above the River Dordogne and makes a perfect base for visiting the fabuous caves, beautiful villages and lovely scenery that this section of the Dordogne is famous for.

Saint Cyprien Tourism

Saint Cyprien has a beautiful old town which winds uphill towards the 12th century belltower and the abbey church which dominate the town.

Saint Cyprien

Arriving at St Cyprien you are first greeted, unfortunately, by the commercial area with Intermarché etc. (Useful though if you are based here to have a good local supermarket). Head up to the town proper and you first get to the main street, the Rue Gambetta.

Along here are loads of restaurants and bars and a number of boutiques - some are very nice, there is an excellent shop selling beautiful cabinets and sinks for the bathroom. If you are looking for a meal or a coffee this is the street to head for. The tourist information office is on this street and they can give you a very useful map for exploring the old town. Whilst on the Rue Gambetta look at the detail of the buildings, there are some lovely balconies and carved stone window surrounds.

The real treat of St Cyprien is behind the Rue Gambetta, it is here that the old town starts. Behind the Tourist Office is the Place de la Liberte. From here head up the Rue du Terme. This is a steep street leading up towards the abbey. There is a stately 18th century Chartreuse (a Perigordian mansion house) here which was built for the chief officer of the French Royal Navy. There are some other wonderful buildings neighbouring the Chartreuse.

This leads to the Impasse Talbot. On this street there is a house which was used by General Talbot, the Commander of the British troops during the Hundred Years War. On a historical note General Talbot was killed whilst crossing the Dordogne at Lamothe-Montravel in 1453. The battle of Castillon took place the following day and lacking their commander in chief the British forces were defeated and the Hundred Years War came to an end.

On the Rue de la Justice de Paix look out for a door with a heart carved above it. This belonged to a religious institution and parts date to the 12th century. It even has an underground passage.

Montmarte area of Saint-Cyprien

Leading above the town are a number of steep narrow lanes. The houses here are squeezed together as everyone wanted to be inside the city wall. This area of town is called "Montmartre" and has excellent views of St Cyprien and the Dordogne valley below.

The abbey of Saint Cyprien has an interesting history. Back in 620AD a hermit called St Cyprien took up residence in a cave overlooking the Dordogne Valley. Gradually a religious community grew up around him. Barbarian invasions of the 9th century led monks to build defensive walls.

In 1568 during the Religious Wars the priory was destroyed. The monastery was rebuilt in 1685 though the bell-tower and keep remain from the 12th century.

The highlight for me in St Cyprien was just ambling round the medieval streets admiring the wonderful architecture scattered throughout.

Market day in St Cyprien is a Sunday morning. A good place to buy the culinary highlights of the region: Foie gras, walnut cake, wines of Monbazillac, Pecharmant and Bergerac as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.

Places to Visit near Saint Cyprien

Les Eyzies with its excellent prehistory museum is close by as are the caves of Font de Gaume and the Grotte du Grand Roc.

See also:

Photos of Saint Cyprien

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Map of Saint Cyprien and places to visit

Saint Cyprien places to visit