Aubeterre-sur-Dronne travel guide

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Visit Aubeterre-sur-Dronne (Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France)

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Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is in the south-east of the Charente department, and 20 kilometres west of Riberac (in the Dordogne department), on a meander in the Dronne river. The village is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Poised on a steep hill above the Dronne River, Aubeterre is a very pretty village. The houses are in the local white stone, some with traditional first floor galleries, others with multi-levelled galleries, and many with attractive roofs. A large number of the houses have been carefully renovated.

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France This Way review: Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is home to an underground church hewn from the rock. It is quite incredible and along with the fact that Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is a very pretty village it is well worth a visit.

Start your visit in the 'lower town' and in the Place Ludovic Trarieux and the streets around this square where you will find most of the shops and restaurants in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne.

Entrance to monolithic church in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

The many cafes with tables set out in the shade of the trees in the square makes this a lovely place to pause for lunch or for a coffee.

The big attraction in the village is the church of Saint-Jean, an extensive troglodyte church (also known as the monolithic church) dating in part to the 5th century and not far from the Place Trarieux.

This monolithic church in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, called the eglise souterraine Saint-Jean,  was an important stop on the pilgrimage route to Compostella in the Middle Ages.

The main body of the church is 20m high and is the tallest hewn-out church in the world. There is a full-immersion baptismal font carved out in this part and a reliquary which is claimed to have once housed a holy relic. It is possible to climb the steps up to the first floor from where you can really appreciate the height and size of the church.

To the side of the main chamber is a burial area where 80 burial holes have been hewn out of the stone. Each with the head pointing to Jerusalem. A very eerie sight!

Near to here is the house that once belonged to Pierre Very who wrote crime novels in the early 20th century. He was born in Bellon near to Aubeterre-sur-Dronne.

Circling back round you will come to Place Merkés Merval which sits below Place Ludovik Trarieux. This used to be called the Place du Lavoir, or washing square as it was the communal washing area. It has been renamed after Paulette Merval and Marcel Merkès who were famous operetta singers. Paulette comes from the region and her parents lived in Aubeterre.

You can see some pretty listed houses with Spanish style balconies above the square.


Head south and the road leads to the Couvent des Clarisses. This convent was founded in 1620 and became an Inn after the French revolution.

Next to the convent is the church of Saint-Jacques and this is another notable highlight on a visit to Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, especially for the quality of the stonework around the portail and facade of the church.

Sadly the facade is the only part of the church that survived the Wars of Religion when the rest was demolished. The church was rebuilt in the 18th century.

In the highest part of the village you can see the Minimes cloister. There is a door at the end of the chapel with access to the cloister. 

Also at the top part of the village is the castle which was built in the 12th century but only the 16th century castellum remains of the old castle. The castle has now been converted into a house and is private.

Saint Jacques church

Attractions nearby

Various leisure activities here are available along the river such as swimming in the river, fishing and canoeing.

It is true that most of the towns, villages and attractions in this region are quite minor, such as the roman style churches in several of the villages. The main market town near Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is at Riberac.

You can find more travel ideas in the Charente guide and the Poitou-Charentes guide.

See also: 

Photos of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

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Map of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne and places nearby


Visit near Aubeterre-sur-Dronne with France This Way reviews

The Subterranean Monolithic Church of Saint-Jean

The Subterranean Monolithic Church of Saint-Jean

The Monolithic Subterranean Church of Saint-Jean in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is a magnificent underground church hewn from the rock.

The Subterranean Monolithic Church of Saint-Jean guide


Chalais has an ancient castle and a roman church among its attractions

Chalais guide


Riberac, a quiet and traditional town, is well known for the large market held here each Friday

Riberac guide


The village of Villebois-Lavalette is pleasant to explore, and also has a castle to see

Villebois-Lavalette guide


Charmant is another pleasant Charente town, with a small castle and a church as well as the source of the river Boeme

Charmant guide
Chateau de la Mercerie

Chateau de la Mercerie

The Chateau de la Mercerie is a manor house with a substantial wing added in the 20th century, and now recently restored

Chateau de la Mercerie guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Charente

Tourist classifications for Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)

Address: Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, Angoulême, Poitou-Charentes, 16390, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 45.2725, longitude 0.171111

Plan your visit to Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, Charente

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Eglise Notre Dame de Faye (Faye): religious monument (13 km)
  • Eglise de Notre Dame (Voulgezac): religious monument (27 km)
  • Logis de Forge: remarkable garden (32 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Cybard (Roullet-Saint-Estephe): religious monument (36 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Estèphe (Roullet-Saint-Estephe): religious monument (36 km)
  • Jardins du château de Montréal: remarkable garden (36 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Pierre (Petit-Palais-et-Cornemps): religious monument (37 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Vincent (Puymoyen): religious monument (38 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Jean-Baptiste (La Couronne): religious monument (38 km)
  • Ancien Prieuré de Merlande (La Chapelle-Gonaguet): religious monument (39 km)
  • Abbaye Saint Pierre (Brantome): religious monument (39 km)
  • Abbaye Notre Dame (Chancelade): religious monument (39 km)

The French version of this page is at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne (Francais)