Aubeterre sur Dronne is a small village located in the Charente department in the southwest of France. Aubeterre is labeled as one of France’s most beautiful villages and has a lot to offer, historic monuments, pretty houses, art galleries, and lively restaurants and coffee places. The town is located on the meeting point of the Charente, Gironde, and Dordogne departments which makes it a perfect day trip from many cities in the region such as Bordeaux, Cognac, Angouleme, Perigueux, Bergerac, or Saint Emilion. In this article, I’ll tell you why Auberette is worth traveling to and what you are expected to see in and around this beautiful village.
Aubeterre sur Dronne was founded in the 13th century on one of the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela. Most of the village is built from a white stone typical to many cities and villages in the Charente department. The town feels a bit like an amphitheater with plenty of hanging galleries decorated with a lot of flowers and greenery. Auberrete is situated on the Dronne river and spreads over a hilltop and valley. The two levels are connected by pretty narrow streets with beautiful houses and breathtaking viewpoints on the valley. The town has several interesting monuments, with the most important being the underground church, Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean.
If you need more information about traveling in these regions or any other part of the southwest join my group “Travel in the southwest of France” on Facebook. You can find plenty of other ideas for day trips from Bordeaux in my article about the best day trips from Bordeaux.
What to see in Aubeterre sur Dronne
While Aubeterre is quite a small village there are a lot of nice streets and places you should not miss on your day trip there. Start your tour of the village on Place Ludovic Trarieux, named after the influential French politician, Ludovic Trarieux, who was born there in 1840. Trarieux was the founder of the Ligue Francaise pour la défense des droits de l’homme (The Human Rights League of France). This is the liveliest spot in town with several coffee places, restaurants, and boutiques located around the square. For a light lunch, Crêperie de la Source is a cute little restaurant with an amazing view. From here continue to the Eglise souterrain Saint-Jean, the most famous monument in the town.
If there’s one thing that should not be missed in Aubeterre sur Dronne it’s the remarkable monolithic church. The Saint-Jean underground church was carved from one cliff during the 7th century and was considerably enlarged during the 12th century by a community of Benedictine monks. It has a unique form and measures 20 meters high from the interior. The church has a relic pit, a necropolis with 160 stone coffins, and 18 meters high galleries all carved from the same stone. You can visit the site daily throughout the year – see the details here.
From the church start descending to the lower part on the charming Rue Barbichon with its pretty view on the valley. For here turn right to Rue Barbecane where you’ll arrive at Place Merkes Merval, an old washing place. This is a beautiful spot where you can admire the many hanging balconies of Aubeterre. Continue up the street to the main square. If you’re interested in art, don’t miss Espace Ludovic Trarieux on your right as well as Antiquités du Tourniquet, a beautiful antique shop on your left.
From here you can start discovering the western part of the village with its steep and beautiful streets and several historic houses. Don’t miss the Saint Jaques church, a collegiate that was demolished in the 16th century during the wars of Religions. Its remarkable facade is the only original part left from the church that was later rebuilt in the 18th century. Its facade is a real piece of art with arches and sculpted capitals.
Go to the beach
If you’re visiting on a hot day, you can finish your day trip on the Aubeterre beach! To get to the beach, pass the bridge to cross the river and turn right. The facilities on the beach include toilets, showers, a kids’ play area, and a restaurant. The beach is located at the Camping base de loisirs d’aubeterre sur dronne that also offers many water activities like kayaking and SUPs. See more details here.
What to see around Aubeterre sur Dronne
Aubeterre sur Dronne is a great base to discover other parts of the Southwest of France. Here’s the list of the best places to visit around Aubeterre-sur-Dronne:
Angouleme – the capital of the Charente department is located about 50km north to Aubeterre and is totally worth the visit when in the region. Apart from its beautiful architecture, the city is known as the French capital of street art with tens of murals spread all over the city. Read my article about how to discover the street art scene in Angouleme before heading there.
Cognac – the most famous town in this region is Cognac, obviously thanks to the world-renowned spirit produced there. Cognac is located a bit farther north, about 70 km from Aubeterre but it’s a very interesting place to visit, especially if you want to see how Cognac is made. Read all the details in my article about Cognac.
Villebois-Lavalette – much closer to Aubeterre you can find Chateau de Villebois-Lavalette, a thousand-year-old castle that went through a massive restoration project and can now be visited. The chateau is located in a nice little town (Villebois-Lavalette) with a great covered market.
Riberac – Also very close to Auberette you can find the charming town of Riberac which is located in the Dordogne department. The town that shares the same river with Aubeterre is known for its excellent weekly market every Friday morning.
Where to stay in Aubeterre sur Dronne
If you’re planning to go to this region for a few days there are plenty of hotels and guest houses around the town. If you want to stay in the village itself the Grange Bleuet is a recommended place. See more hotels in Aubeterre sur Dronne here.
Where to park in Aubeterre sur Dronne
There are two big free parking spaces in Aubeterre sur Dronne. The central one is located just in front of the tourist office on Place du Champ de Foire. If there’s no space there, you can go higher to the northern parking lot next to Chemin du Cimetière.
If you’re looking for more ideas for day trips in the Bordeaux region here are a few other articles you might want to read:
The best beaches around Bordeaux
Day trips around Bordeaux – wine, beaches and villages
10 day trips from Bordeaux by Public transport
A weekend in Medoc – Bordeaux wine tours
What to do and eat in Saint Emilion
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here: