St Cyprien | Things to See and Do in Saint Cyprien
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 organ.
History | St Cyprien
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.
Things to See and Do in St Cyprien
Abbey of St Cyprien
Built mainly in the Romanesque style flanked by a fortified bell tower dating from the 12th century. The abbey is famous for its organ which was renovated in 1981 by German organ builder Grenzing. Each year organ concerts are held in the church during July and August.
This is the ancient part of the town where houses are squeezed together from war times when the villagers wanted to live sheltered within the village’s walls. The steep narrow lanes in this area have lovely views over Saint-Cyprien and the Dordogne Valley.
This is the main street through the town and is lined with shops, restaurants and bars. The building along this road and others around it feature iron balconnies and stone windows.
On this street there is a house which was used by General Talbot, the Commander of the British troops during the Hundred Years War.
Held on a Sunday morning the St Cyprien market is a lively market with local farmers selling their produce. It is a great place to pick up the local delicacies such as Foie Gras, Confit de Canard, Rocamadour cheese and Gateaux Noix (Walnut Cake)
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