St Cyprien is a pretty village full of history in the Dordogne in SW France not far from Sarlat and near the great chateaux of Beynac and Castelnuad.
The village has narrow streets winding up to the 12th-century bell tower/ keep, part of the abbey church with its listed ogan.
In about 620 AD, a hermit named Cyprien settled in a cave that overlooked the Dordogne valley. Others gathered around him and a monastic community grew up. Barbarian invasions in the mid-9th century forced the monks to build defensive ramparts, one of which is the belltower-keep that survives today.
The body became an Augustine body and by the year 1076 was so successful it was taken under the protection of Bertrand de Got, archbishop of Bordeaux and later Pope Clement V.
St Cyprien suffered greatly in the Hundred Years’ War, due to its exposed border position and much of the village was destroyed.
In 1568, during the Wars of Religion, Calvinist troops burned the priory to the ground, but the monastery was rebuilt in 1685. Declared a “national asset”, in April 1791 it was sold to the town for 8,125 francs and renamed “Temple of Reason dedicated to the Supreme Being”.
In 1871 the powerful state tobacco monopoly knocked down the cloister, closed off the inner doors, and turned the place into a warehouse.
Now St Cyprien is a lovely village to visit with a selection of good restaurants and a lively market held each Sunday morning through the summer months.