Brantome is short for the best of southern France. It’s simply the most beautiful little river town imaginable. Riverboats cruise lazily up the Dronne River bringing the most extraordinarily clear water all the way from the Massif Central! It’s one of the cleanest rivers in France.
The river flows past the Abbey of Brantome founded in 769 by Charlemagne and the ancient church with its treasures to be discovered.
Such a beautiful spot naturally attracts a large tourist crowd (of which we were unabashedly a part) and there are attractions like the limestone caves lining the road that have been touristed up for the masses…think Amalfi Coast as crowded as Positano with parking lots along the river banks. Necessarily a mix of now and ancient age. It was the caves that originally attracted the Monks as is the case in other river towns.
Lovely little restaurants line the banks of the river and we enjoyed a meal in one, Au fils de l’Eau, the night we spent there…the restaurant features an outdoor dining area by the river where local Nutria come up and feed on the grass around your feet as you dine. A bit strange but I guess it didn’t bother too much.
The water of the Dronne is so transparent you wouldn’t be aware of the current but for the grasses swaying gently.
Sunshine + Fresh clean water and cones are obvious. Families and kids in brightly colored life preservers and every manner of kayak and canoe passed by with regular frequency. The water was so inviting I wished our bathing suits weren’t back at the hotel.
The Abbey church is now the village Parish church, the abbey itself was stolen from the monks during the French Revolution and is now a tourist attraction. Behind The space between the church and Abbey is a spring that was considered Sacred by the pre-Christians.
The Abbey was sacked by the English during the Hundred Years War and both Abbey and Church rebuilt after 1350. It is a fine original Gothic church with a beautiful western window which reveals the thickness of the massive stone masonry that supports the stone ceiling vaults.
The stone window frame has four columns of depth on each side. The east windows are a trinity reference and also show the depth of the construction.
The Abbey was famous for having the relics of Saint Sicaire brought here by Charlemagne and it is said they are still here in this reliquary.
A fine early Baptismal font possibly made from a re-purposed Romanesque Column capital.
A last look at the transitional entrance door to the church with its beautiful Renaissance era wrought iron hinges and door hardware.
Day trippers have gone and Luz enjoys a tranquil moment in the sun overlooking the river in the sunny Dordogne.