Set on a dramatically steep promontory high above the River Dordogne, the unusual trapezium shaped walled village of Domme is one of the most famous bastides in the region. It’s one of the few to have retained most of its 13th-century ramparts, including three fortified gates: porte de la Combe. A one-time base for the Knights Templars (whose religious graffiti can still be seen in the towers by porte des tours, where they were imprisoned in 1307), it was fought over and besieged frequently during the Hundred Years’ War and Wars of Religion. The village is so picturesque it has become very touristy and commercialised, but you can’t beat its stunning panoramas of the River Dordogne and its valley.
There are two main entrances – southern porte del Bos (the D46/D50 approach from Cenac) or eastern porte des Tours (D46E from Sarlat). At the top of the village’s main street, Grand’Rue, is the central market place, place de la Halle, and the tourist office (Tel: 05 53 31 71 00, Fax: 05 53 31 71 09). It opens 10am to noon and 2pm to 6pm daily (10am to 7pm daily in July and August). It’s closed during January. Car parking inside the walls is metered. There’s a free parking lot just outside porte des Tours.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
The best views are a few steps from place de Halle, from from the cliff-side Esplanade du Belvedere and the adjacent Promenade de la Barre, which streetches west along the forested slope to the Jardin Public. The preciptious bluff below was, amazingly, scaled by Huguenot besiegers during the Wars of Religion, one of the few times the bastide was captured.
Across from the tourist office, the 19th century reconstruction of the 16th century halles ( covered market ) houses the entrance to the grottes ( caves; 0553317100 ) 450 m of stalactite-filled galleries underneath the village that gave the inhabitants a handy refuge during times of attack.
On the far side of the square from the tourist office, the Musee d’ Arts et de Traditions Populaires (0553317100 ) has 9 rooms of clothing, toys, tools and other memorabilia from the past.
Several canoe operators are based in Cenac including Randonee Dordogne.
Les Papillons is just 10 minutes drive from Domme