Brantome is a stunning village in the Dordogne on the Dronne river. One of the absolute highlights of this lovely village is the old Benedictine Abbey which sits on the on the river’s edge along with the old stone bridge, weir and mill. Via Lemovicensis, an old pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, runs through Brantome.
History | Brantome
The town developed on an island on a curve of the Dronne river next to the Benedictine Abbey of Brantôme. The abbey was founded in 769 by Charlemagne who, according to legend, donated relics of Saint Sicarius one of the infants in the Massacre of the Innocents. The relics attracted pilgrims to the abbey, who brought some affluence to Brantôme, but in spite of St. Sicaire’s protection, the abbey was badly damaged in 848 and in 857 by Viking marauders in their march across the region.
The abbey was rebuilt towards the end of the tenth century and again in 1465 and in 1480 after the end of the Hundred Years’ War. Its Romanesque bell-tower reputed to be the oldest in France.
In 1538 to 56, Bertrand du Guesclin, battling the English Angevins built a right-angled bridge, the Pont Coudé, over the river, which connected the elegant Renaissance abbot’s lodging he had built for himself with a lovely garden garden, which lay on the opposite bank.
He was succeeded by his nephew, Pierre de Bourdeille who was a soldier and writer whose diplomacy saved the abbey and its commune from the Huguenot on two occasions in 1569 during the Wars of Religion. At the French Revolution, the abbey was secularized as a “bien national”, the last seven monks pensioned and its rich library dispersed.
The Jardin botanique d’Alaije is a botanical garden with an emphasis on vegetables.
The Benedictine Abbey The abbey was built by Charlemagne in 769 and the main historical highlight of the town. Behind the abbey is the troglodyte section which including the famous cave of the ‘Last Judgement’ which are the remains of the original abbey.
Renaissance Tower and the round Tour St Roch These formed part of the defenses of the southern part of the abbey whilst the Porte des Reformes defended the northern side.
The Church Belfry The Belfry was built in the 11th century and is the oldest to be found in France, it stands on a rocky outcrop at the bottom of a cliff.
The Church of Saint Pierre This church dates back to the 15th century. The bridge that crosses the river, and provides a good vantage point to view the town.
General Market The fresh produce market is held every Tuesday morning from June until September and all year on a Friday morning.
Truffle Market Held in the mornings December to Feb.