Domme

Domme is 250 metres (820 ft) above sea level on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Dordogne river. Domme is a bastide (a fortified medieval town) adapted to the surrounding terrain.

Information

  • Distance from Les Lavandes: 46 Kilometres Approx
  • Market Day: Thursday
  • Restaurants: Open March to November
  • Grotte de Domme
  • Le Petit Train
  • Belvedere de la Barre
  • Tourists Sites: Open March to November
  • Map Grid: B3

Map

Description

Founded as a stronghold in 1281 by Philip the Bold following his campaign along the Dordogne river, Domme obtained the privilege of minting its own currency. In 1307, the Knight Templars were imprisoned in Domme during the trial against them, of which hundreds of Templar graffiti still bear witness. During the Hundred Years' War, the bastide was coveted by the English who first took the town in 1347 and repeatedly changed rulers throughout the war until 1437 when it finally fell under French rule again. The Wars of Religion brought new turmoil. Protestants took the city in 1588 by climbing the cliffs at night to open the gates. A short success, as the Protestant captain had to hand the bastide in which he was entrenched back to the Catholics in 1592.

Domme retains part of its original fortified walls and the gateways into the town. The ramparts are extremely thick and there remain three of the original doors. The Porte des Tours is perhaps the most impressive, with its round towers but the Porte de la Combe and the Porte del Bos are both very pretty and are reached by walking down really lovely streets lined with a mixed array of houses and cottages all in the lovely honey-coloured stone distinctive to this region. The towers of the Porte des Tours were converted into prisons in 1307 when the Knights Templers were arrested by the king, and it is still possible to see the engraved crucifixes they carved whilst they were imprisoned. The prison is open throughout the year. You can walk round the ramparts on the south side of the town between the Port del Bos and the Porte de la Combe. There are some great views across the countryside (and glimpses of some very impressive houses and gardens built just inside the ramparts).

The tourist office and Mairie are located in the very impressive Maison du Gouverneur on the Place de la Halle. Below the Place de la Halle you will find the entrance to the Grottes de Domme. The caves (grottes) have been used in the past to shelter the town's inhabitants during the Hundred Years' War, though the upper part was only discovered in 1954. There are more than 400m of stalactite filled galleries and a glass lift takes you back up to the surface.Just above the Place de la Halle is the Belvedere de la Barre, a great viewpoint and the start of the Promenade des Falaises - a short walk leading to a public park. The walk is all high up above the River Dordogne and so the views are magnificent. Parts of the walk are bordered by remains of the fortified walls that surrounded parts of Domme. The Jardin Public at the end is a good place for a picnic. A little further along is the Moulin du Roy.

Today a member of the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France ("The Most Beautiful Villages of France"), Domme has two public spaces of medieval origin: the commercial Place de la Halle ("Market Hall Square") and the Place de La Rode. There were two other notable locations in the village: the fair and the moneyer's house. Domme has a little tourist 'train', the Domme Express which is very popular with children. Le Petit Train - Domme has a little tourist train which travels around the key points of interest in the town. The trip is accompanied by an audio-commentary. Le Petit Train runs from the 1st April to the 31st October. L'Oustal du Perigord is a museum housed in one of the lovely buildings on the main square. Inside the museum are lots of items relating to life in the Perigord during the last century. One of the best days to visit Domme is on Thursday which is market day.