Domme - tourist village in the Dordogne

The fortified town of Domme lies near Sarlat, in the Dordogne department. Domme has around 1000 inhabitants and is located in the "Périgord Noir", on the border with the Lot department. Domme is an old town, on top of a mountain, and belongs to "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France". It is one of the most beautiful places in France. There are also other places in the area that are on this list such as Beynac-et-Cazenac and Roque Gageac. It is definitely worthwhile to  visit  the bastide town of Domme during your holiday. Several spots in the village provide you with a beautiful view, at a height of around 150 meters, over the valley where you can see the Dordogne river. The Dordogne is very popular among canoeists. A train runs through the village that takes you along the most beautiful places.

History of Domme

The first thing which was known about Domme is that a castle, the Cathar castle, stood west of Domme. Cathars mainly lived in the Languedoc, at the feet of the Pyrenees. Some had moved towards the Dordogne. The Cathars were Christians who were not allowed to profess their own faith by the Roman church and were therefore severely persecuted by the Roman Inquisition. In the year 1281 Philip the Bold built a castle on the hill on which Domme now lies. It is generally believed that this event is the actual origin of the city. Philip built the castle in his battle against the English. From a high mountain and from directly on the river Phillip could keep a close eye on the surroundings. During the Hundred Years' War, Domme had both been in the hands of the English and in the hands of the French. The Hundred Years’ War was followed by religious wars. When building the wall around Domme it was not seen as necessary to build a wall against the steep rock face which was on one of the sides of the castle. In 1588 Domme was taken by the Protestants who had climbed the rock face at night and were able to  take the city under the leadership of Geoffroy de Vivans. After that, Domme was a prosperous city, until the seventeenth century, with beautiful houses and buildings which still stand to this day and ensured that Domme retained its original character.

Bastide village Domme

Domme is a bastide village.  Bastides are old fortresses which have a strategic location. These fortresses were walled cities and parts of these walls are still present today. Another feature of a bastide is that it has a regular street pattern of straight streets so that the blocks of houses are in squares. At Domme this was not always possible seen as it was built on a hill and a rock cliff. The landscape did not allow for such a tight square floor plan as a bastide is usually used to. There are entrance gates to the bastide village in the walls of the bastide. In most cases there are only remnants of the Bastide, if there is anything left at all. This is also the case for Domme where the entrance gates are still in very good condition.

Gates of Domme

  • Porte del Bos,
  • Porte des Tours
  • Porte de la Combe

Caves under the village square of Domme

The central place of the village is the village square. In many places, the church is the center of the village square. This is not the case in Domme, where the seventeenth century market hall is at the center of the square. The reason for this is that the market hall had two functions. First of all, it was were the market was held and it is also the access point to the caves of Domme which lie below the village. In times of war, this cave was an extra hiding place for the inhabitants of Domme. The cave also had access to water, which is of course very important in times of war. You can admire the stalactites and stalagmites under the guidance of a guide. There are also bison and mammoth bones in the cave. At the exit of the cave there is a playground for children.


The main gate is the large gate on the east side of Domme, La Porte des Tours. Around 1310, the  Templars were held captive in the Porte des Tours, where a prison had been created, by order of Philip the Handsome. The Templars had their own code system that they used to communicate with each other. These codes or inscriptions can still be seen on the walls of the towers.

Place de la Rode

Place de la Rode is one of the beautiful squares in Domme. It is located just south of the center. In the past criminals were tortured here. Now, fortunately, there is no memory of those bloody times and events on the square. "Maison du Batteur de Monnaie" is also located on this square. This is where money used to be stored. The restaurant "Auberge de la Rode" is located on the square and is highly recommended.

Domme 6 bastide Dordogne Frankrijk train vakantie uitzicht toerisme.jpg

Beautiful views over the Dordogne

Domme is located on a mountain and has loads of beautiful viewpoints. You can look for miles over the beautiful landscapes of the Dordogne. One of the best viewpoints is "Belvédère de la Barre". Go for a walk along the cliff and visit the viewing tower. Below you you’ll see the Dordogne river and likely a few canoeists. The river winds through the landscape and disappears into the horizon. If you follow the path to the left, you will enter the beautiful Jardin Public du Jubilé and you’ll be able to explore the remains of the castle slightly further along. In the distance you can see Roque-Gageac against the rocks.


Vin de Domme, the wine region named after the fortified town, is located south of Domme, around the hamlet of Moncalou. It is still a small area and unknown to many. Until well into the nineteenth century, Domme's wine was well known in France and beyond. With 2700 hectares, it was the largest wine region in the Périgord after Bergerac. Around 1875, three-quarters of the vineyards were destroyed by grape phylloxera, a pesticide. This was followed by a few more setbacks and the farmers switched to other products. Around 1990 they started growing grapes again and in 1996 the first grapes were harvested. Visit the winemakers, look at the winery and go for a dégustation, a wine tasting.

Shops and restaurants

If you have enjoyed the beautiful views and have visited the caves, then it is nice to see the shops. The main street of Domme starts on the market square and is full of shops and nice boutiques. Local products are sold, you’ll find souvenir shops and pretty art objects. There are several restaurants with inviting terraces. There are restaurants in the village center and restaurants with a beautiful view over the valley. In all of these cases you can enjoy the French cuisine.

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