Visit of Saint-Jean-de-Côle: A delicious medieval village

Saint Jean de Côle
Share Visit of Saint-Jean-de-Côle: A delicious medieval village
Visit of Saint-Jean-d ...

Saint-Jean-de Côle is a small village 20 minutes from Brantôme , ideal for a half-day walk. It is characterized by a charming set of medieval village houses , which converge on a central square, flanked by a castle which protects just opposite, a church and its priory . Saint-Jean-de-Côle is classified among the Most Beautiful Villages of France , it can be visited with pleasure all year round. In summer, it teems with life, it is adorned with flowers and it is a treat to sit down with a small coffee, just for the pleasure of enjoying a quiet moment, in the heart of a typical Périgordin village . We go on a visit with Les Promenades d'Alex , to learn more about the history of Saint-Jean-de-Côle and offer you a pleasant stroll.

Photos of the article: © Guide du Périgord

Saint-Jean-de-Côle
Visit of Saint-Jean-de-Côle, with Les Promenades d'Alex

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The church of Saint John the Baptist, the priory and the Château de la Marthonie

These two sets, classified as Historical Monuments , are in the heart of the village on a beautiful, bright square where the eyes take in all these beauties with a single glance ... Park outside the village which is walked through . It's perfect for families , because most of the alleys are pedestrianized , nicely paved as if to emphasize the beauty of the ocher stones with which the village houses are made. The heart of Saint-Jean-de-Côle is very compact, just a few alleys and crossroads, where you can get lost with relish. Observe the sides of half-timbered houses , stop to admire the architectural details, carefully maintained by the inhabitants who love their village.


Saint-Jean-de-Côle
Admire the beautiful half-timbered houses and the ocher stone of the facades
Saint-Jean-de-Côle Saint-Jean-de-Côle
Stroll the alleys, appreciate the details
Saint-Jean-de-Côle

Saint-Jean-de-Côle was once a bustling town, located on the road between Thiviers and Nontron, it was ideally placed for trade and there were many carts to circulate to the central square, to bring foodstuffs to the attention from the monks and the inhabitants of the castle. After many adventures, the village fell asleep until it came to life again thanks to the construction of the railway line in the 19th century, which opened up it and allowed the link between Brives and Angoulême. Today, it is again a small quiet village, which lives mainly from tourism with some 300 souls a year. Note that outside Saint-Jean-de-Côle, there are quarries for the extraction of very pure quartz , which is used in the automotive industry in particular.

We walk to reach the square, where the History of Saint-Jean-de-Côle begins with the construction of the Saint Jean-Baptiste church , in Romano-Byzantine style. It dates from the 12th century , and goes hand in hand with the priory and its adjoining Gothic cloister (also classified as historical monuments), the construction of which was ordered by Raynaud de Thiviers , then bishop of Périgueux . At the time, the complex housed 16 canons of the order of Saint Augustine . Unfortunately, the priory cannot be visited, except during heritage days. We approach to admire the adjoining small hall and my guide Alexandre points out to me the support modillions of the church cornices, which are delicately carved with character motifs . The church, which was once that of the priory, later became the parish church . We enter to observe its curious interior architecture … Look up to see that the nave was once topped with a dome , probably imposing and heavy (more than 12m in diameter!). There is little information on this subject, we know that it was destroyed during the Wars of Religion, then rebuilt and supported by massive pillars of reinforcement . It collapsed twice, in the 18th and 19th centuries and today, the gaping hole is filled with a wooden floor.


Saint-Jean-de-Côle
The Hall of the Church on the left
Church of Saint-Jean-de-Côle Church of Saint-Jean-de-Côle
The side of the church and the architectural details visible under the hall
Apse church Saint-Jean-de-Côle Dome of Saint-Jean-de-Côle church
The apse of the church of Saint-Jean-de-Côle and the space in the ceiling of the nave, where the dome was


Saint-Jean-de-Côle was attacked by the English in 1394, then taken over by the French in 1404. It was the Pope who then ordered the reconstruction of the church around 1436.

We leave the church and we turn our heels to instantly face the Château de la Marthonie , which is not placed there by chance ... It also dates from the 12th century, for its first version and served as protection for the priory and his monks. In the 15th century, it was the home of Lord Pierre Mondot de la Marthonie , a notable who was President of the Parliament of Bordeaux . The Castle was also burnt down by the English during the Hundred Years War , then rebuilt with its towers , battlements and original machicolations . We can see a low wing and all in adjoining length, it dates from the 17th century.


The Château de la Marthonie
The Château de la Marthonie and on the left, its more recent lower wing

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A village where water plays a full role

As its name suggests, Saint-Jean-de-Côle is built around the Côle , which is a tributary of the Dronne, which flows at Bourdeilles and Brantôme . Take a walk on the Esplanade du Pont , if you come the second weekend of May, you will have the chance to attend the Floralies of Saint-Jean-de-Côle . A joyous event where the nurserymen of the surroundings have been unveiling their plant treasures since 1982! The village is also awarded 2 flowers in the Cities and Villages in bloom competition .

Continue to the medieval bridge , in Romanesque style . It dates from the 15th century , its wide apron is made of stones and paved with pebbles , probably found locally in the Côle… Its silhouette in the back of a donkey and its forepeaks on 3 semicircular arches , still resonate with the noise of carts and carts, which did not fail to cross it when it was the only way to go from Nontron to Thiviers. Go around and slip your feet in the Côle which is very pure and fresh. Right in front of you, an old mill .


The esplanade near the Saint-Jean-de-Côle bridge
The esplanade near the Saint-Jean-de-Côle bridge and in the distance, you can clearly see the bell tower of the Saint Jean-Baptiste church
Saint-Jean-de-Côle bridge
The Saint-Jean-de-Côle bridge, with its donkey-shaped silhouette
Saint-Jean-de-Côle Saint-Jean-de-Côle
The view from the bridge, on one side the nature and on the other, a vestige of the village mill, on the Côle
Saint-Jean-de-Côle Saint-Jean-de-Côle
Walk around the bridge, sit on the grass with a picnic, or dip your toes in the river

We continue beyond the bridge to enjoy a clear view of the priory and the cloister from afar. It's a pretty painting , a real postcard! Proceed on the small limestone path, cross the road with caution to taste a few sips of water at the Fountain of Love ... A source that is said to be magical, where young people came to quench their thirst with the chosen one ( e) with their hearts, to be in love forever! There are several wells and a wash house in Saint-Jean-de-Côle, water is everywhere.

From spring, Saint-Jean-de-Côle offers a very lively and open face. The artisan shops display watercolors or regional products, the cafes and restaurants are open ... Come and visit Saint-Jean-de-Côle , take a guided tour with Alexandre or walk its alleys aimlessly, just for fun stroll there… You will not be disappointed with the trip!


Saint-Jean-de-Côle
We move away from the village
Saint-Jean-de-Côle
To admire a perfect picture of the cloister and the rest of the priory
Saint-Jean-de-Côle Saint-Jean-de-Côle
The Fountain of Love! In the village, have fun looking for the famous funny weather station!
Saint-Jean-de-Côle
A truly charming village
Alex's walks
See you soon in Saint-Jean-de-Côle! Trust Alex for a quality guided walk!


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