In the northerly part of the Dordogne region of France, on the river Dromme, sits the town of Brantôme.
Sometimes hounded the Dordogne’s answer to Venice… Ok, maybe not quite but Brantôme is a town of postcard perfection.
Brantôme has so much to offer with its rich history, charming backstreets, an ancient abbey, caves that were home to troglodytic eighth-century monks surrounded by a loop of the river Dronne.
The main part of the town can be accessed via only three bridges that cross the river allowing access into the town centre, which is on a little island of its own.
We spent an entire day wandering round Brantôme, exploring the abbey, the caves and the bell-tower, which is said to be the oldest in France, all of which are must-sees.
We also took the 50-minute narrated boat tour which cruised around Brantôme providing a commentary as we cruise past 16th century, medieval and Renaissance houses, the Benedictine Abbey, the 11th century Campanile bell tower, the cave dwellings, the Monk’s Park with its 16th century altars, the Ford millers, the mill convent and natural islands. It was a peaceful yet insightful trip, a great way to find out more about this beautiful place.
There are many places to eat in Brantöme, but two things are a must, 1. eat duck 2. eat beside the river. After finally deciding on somewhere to eat, I ordered confit de canard, duck confit, which is a no brainer if you like duck. This is duck thighs preserved in duck fat, and then cooked in a small amount of the duck fat just before it is served. If it is served with frites, chips, they should also be fried in a bit of that duck fat. Followed with my favourite, crème brûlée!
Top tip: Market day is on Friday’s and Brantöme is particularly animated and colourful!
After watching numerous people kayak up and down the Dronne it was time to head into the caves.
Before getting into the caves it is worth exploring the 900 year old Abbey (built by Charlemagne in 769 and the main historical highlight of the town) which on its own is extremely interesting, steeped in historic wealth. But if you find yourself in Brantöme, you must take the time to see the troglodyte caves which include the famous cave of the ‘Last Judgement’ – very atmospheric.
Last thing on the agenda was to grab an ice cream from one of the most unique ice cream parlous I’ve ever visited. Inside a cave…& they had over 50 flavours! A great way to finish our trip to this charming picturesque town…
Brantome really is one of the most attractive towns in the Dordogne area. With plenty to see and do the little town is well worth passing through if ever in Perigord, France.