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I recently had the pleasure of taking a day trip to Brantôme in the Dordogne, France. Sometimes called ‘The Venice of the Dordogne’, and although Brantôme is beautiful, I don’t think I’d go quite that far! The old town sits in a bend in the Dronne river, and the river completely surrounds it – giving some excellent weir-controlled river sections for canoeists and kayakers!
Located in the Dordogne, known for it’s picturesque river towns, you can reach Brantôme by flying into Bergerac Airport, or by getting a train to Angoulême and then a bus on to Brantôme. If you are driving, there is a free carpark on Avenue André Maurois, a short walk along the river from the centre of the town. We drove, so were thankful for this car park, as the tiny streets in the old town are not made for parking!
There is a canoe hire shop next to the free carpark. There are also some small river boat tours available – one next to the Pont Coudé near the famous Moulin restaurant; and one next to La Cabourne restaurant in the old town. You can also walk a circular route along the river, around by the ancient Abbaye de Brantôme, and looping back through the old town.
The Old Town:
Surrounded on all sides by the Dronne river, Brantôme’s old town is a criss-cross of winding streets with lovely riverside restaurants, art galleries, and of course, the obligatory tourist shops. Be warned, this picturesque town gets mobbed with tourists in the high season, so if you want a quiet look around, try visiting in the bridging seasons – perhaps May or September.
The Abbaye and Town Hall:
The Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Brantôme is an old Benedictine abbey founded in 769 by Charlemagne. It has 11th-14th Century additions to the building, and was connected to the new Mairie’s office (Town Hall) in the 18th Century. These grand buildings are set into the hillside to the north of the river opposite the old town.
Le Moulin de l’Abbaye
One building in Brantôme is photographed almost as much as the abbey itself. The picture-perfect Moulin de l’Abbaye Hotel and Restaurant sits next to the Pont Coudè bridge and could not be more quaint! They also have themselves a Michelin starred chef, so they are worth a visit. It is open March-October each year.
Brantôme is one of many jewels in the crown for France – with something to do for everyone. Staying in the area would be ideal, but a day trip to Brantôme will give you a flavour of things.
If you like this article, you might also like reading about the fairytale village of Verteuil-sur-Charente.
All photos © Hannah Henderson and may not be used without permission (sharing this blog post is fine, though!). Images shot with a Canon DSLR T3i Rebel + Canon EF Lens 50mm 1:1.8 STM; and an iPhone6s.