As soon as you arrive in BRANTOME you will be seduced by a single glance at is Carolingian abbey that has the oldest tower in France... on one of the roads taken by Saint Jacques de Compostelle. Brantome is nestled in a buckle of the Drome, a charming town of medieval and Renaissance houses, built on an island, seducing by its natural cadre. It is surmounted by forestry like shrine, witnessing a rich past. Let yourself be guided along the abbey's troglodyte paths, in the Benedictine church. Other architectural details will attract your attention and it is "the nose up in the air", loitering around that you will be charmed out of your wit.
Originally, the town dates back to Charlemagne who is said to have come and found the abbey in 769 to place there Saint Hilaire's relics. You should also tour the town at night, when lights inflame the river and monuments of that Venice in Périgord. The river Drome besieges Brantôme and circles with clear waters the famous abbey and old flowered houses, which stand on one of the Drome islands. Sacked by the Normans in the 11th century, the abbey was rebuilt beside the river against a steep bank. It survived the 100-years war thanks to one of its most prominent citizens: Pierre de Bourdeilles, the "abbé de Brabntome", and better known as Brantome. You will walk in his footsteps, sitting in of the elegant resting places of the Jardin des Moines, where some inhabitant will tell you a few war or "gallant" anecdotes. You will wander in town through one of the numerous bridges or passageways, you will flash trough the very narrow alleyways, surrounded by water, of ancient centuries like the medieval ages, the15, 16, 17th centuries. Pierre de Bourdeilles, is remembered in town by a bust, overlooking the pool of the fountain Medicis.
The main attraction is of course the abbey: open April-June- and Sept 10-12.30 and 2.00-6.00, closed Tuesday, July and open August daily 10.00-2.00
It is flanked by its venerable Roman bell (11th century and its troglodyte traject will transport you into ancient times. Here is a charming dogleg bridge with a Renaissance pavilion, where you can watch the reflections in river water. After suffering a string of bad luck and ugly reconstructions, it had its "coup de grace" when it was handed over to a 19th century architect Paul Abadie. The Abadie treatement was a massacre, only a bas relief of the "massacre des Innocents", survived from the original church. Of the cloister, rebuilt in the 16th century, only one of the gallery remains.
The abbey has a museum, uninteresting with the paintings of a certain Fernand Desmoulin, a friend of Emile Zola and follower of the spiritist Karadec (see the pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris on this web site)
Besides a stroll through the town and a possible visit to the new MUSEE REVE ET MINIATURES, 8 rue Puyjoli, with a meticulous collection of historic interiors for Lilliputians, there is the ivy covered "Peyrelevade Dolmen", 1 km east of Brantome, the best preserved megalithic monument in the area.
Memoires de Mr.Pierre de Bourdeilles, seigneur de Brantome, contenant les vies ilustres (Londres T.Wood and Palmer)-Brantome et le Sens de l'Histoire , by Grimaldi,Brantôme by Paul Dubuisson(version anglaise) (May 1995-Brantôme, by Paul Dubuisson/Paul( 1995)