A brief history and sights of St. Cyprien

Saint Cyprien is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding region as though it is a remarkably beautiful village, it is not itself a major tourist attraction.  This means that you are not constantly jostling with other tourists for parking spots or having to line up for restaurants unlike in some of the nearby popular tourist attractions of Baynac, Les Eyzies or Domme...unless of course its Sunday morning (market day) or there is a special fete or event being held.

Saint Cyprien is situated on the hillside above the River Dordogne and makes a perfect base for visiting the fabuous caves, beautiful villages and lovely scenery that this section of the Dordogne is famous for.  (Left) Drone and video footage of St. Cyprien courtesy of Municipalité de Saint-Cyprien

Saint Cyprien has a beautiful old town which winds uphill towards the 12th century bell tower and the abbey church which dominate the town.

The main street is the Rue Gambetta along here are loads of restaurants, cafes and bistros and a number of boutiques and shops. If you are looking for a meal or a coffee this is the street to head for. The tourist information office is on this street and they can give you a very useful map for exploring the old town. Whilst on the Rue Gambetta look at the detail of the buildings, there are some lovely balconies and carved stone window surrounds.

The real treat of St Cyprien is behind the Rue Gambetta, it is here that the old town starts. Behind the Tourist Office is the Place de la Liberte. From here head up the Rue du Terme. This is a steep street leading up towards the abbey. There is a stately 18th century Chartreuse (a Perigordian mansion house) here which was built for the chief officer of the French Royal Navy. There are some other wonderful buildings neighbouring the Chartreuse.

This leads to the Impasse Talbot. On this street there is a house which was used by General Talbot, the Commander of the British troops during the Hundred Years War. On a historical note General Talbot was killed whilst crossing the Dordogne at Lamothe-Montravel in 1453. The battle of Castillon took place the following day and lacking their commander in chief the British forces were defeated and the Hundred Years War came to an end.

On the Rue de la Justice de Paix look out for a door with a heart carved above it. This belonged to a religious institution and parts date to the 12th century.

Leading above the town are a number of steep narrow lanes. The houses here are squeezed together as everyone wanted to be inside the city wall. This area of town is called "Montmartre" and has excellent views of St Cyprien and the Dordogne valley below.

The abbey of Saint Cyprien has an interesting history. Back in 620AD a hermit called St Cyprien took up residence in a cave overlooking the Dordogne Valley. Gradually a religious community grew up around him. Barbarian invasions of the 9th century led monks to build defensive walls.

In 1568 during the Religious Wars the priory was destroyed. The monastery was rebuilt in 1685 though the bell-tower and keep remain from the 12th century.

A highlight of being in St Cyprien is just ambling round the medieval streets and laneways admiring the wonderful architecture scattered throughout.