Brantome - the Venice of the Perigord
This is a picture postcard village, with nothing to detract from the magic of the place. It is first of all a natural site, a crescent-shaped cliff surmounted by a wooded swath of green, at the base of which sits the abbey and where the river Dronne curls around and surrounds the medieval town. The "Venice of Perigord" is actually an island.
The Abbey was founded by Charlemagne in the early 9th century. While the church has undergone some transformations over the centuries, its 11th century bell tower is certainly the oldest in France. In fact, it is unique for being built not on the church but on the rocky overhang that dominates it.
You'll find a tourist information centre in the former cloister to help you better plan your stay. Take in the Musee Desmoulin and its spirit medium paintings.
Just past the Renaissance Pavilion, the old southern defence of the abbey and the abbot's manor which now houses a painters' workshop, you'll find the Moulin de l'Abbaye, converted into an adorable hotel on the banks of the Dronne.
Be sure to come to Brantome on Friday morning or else stay until Friday at noon, since it's market day on the square between the abbey and the river, across from the Medici fountain and just steps from the Moulin. It's incredibly picturesque!