Friday, March 27, 2015

A (plus) pretty detour to Brantôme

Benedictine Abbaye de Brantôme

A river runs through it — the river being the Dronne and “it” being the lovely village of Brantôme in the northern Dordogne. The oldest parts of the town were built on an island next to the Benedictine Abbey of Brantôme, founded by Charlemagne in 769. The abbey is said to have contained relics of Saint Sicarius. It was ravaged by Vikings and then again during the Hundred Years’ War. It was rebuilt several times and today boasts what may be the oldest (11th century) bell tower in France.

Pont Coudé in Brantôme

Pont Coudé on the river Dronne in Brantôme

Fountain at Abbaye de Brantôme

Visitors can tour the abbey and explore the ancient troglodyte caves nextdoor; nighttime tours are offered in the summer. Details can be found on the Périgord Drone Belle website.

Brantôme, France

Le Moulin de L’Abbaye is an upscale hotel/restaurant in Brantôme.

A delightful day in Brantôme can include a canoe ride, a picnic in Jardin des moines et Reposoirs, and visits to nearby châteaux Bourdeilles, Jumilhac and Puyguilhem, Grotte de Villars and Saint Jean de Côle.

Along the Dronne in Brantôme

Brantôme is located in the Périgord Vert. The area was given its name by Jules Verne, and the village is located on the Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage route, also known as Chemin de Vezalay.

Brantôme’s war memorial

In my research for this post on Brantôme, I came across another distinction to add to my catalog of French sites: Les Plus Beaux Détours. Other more familiar designations such as le plus beau village or plus beau jardin pretty much assure that I will see something pretty when I visit. The plus beaux détours website contains a wealth of information on these small towns that have received the designation due to their history, gastronomy, lodging options and overall appeal to tourists. It’s a guide to which I am sure to refer again and again, especially once they have the English language option working.

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