Nontron is in the heart of the Perigord Limousin's regional Natural Park. A wonderful place to enjoy forest walks and guided tours of old Nontron provided by the local tourist information office.
Nontron was founded by Phoenician explorers in 1100 BC. Throughout its interesting development it has survived a number of wars and sieges. In 1199 Richard the Lionheart met his end here.
This charming city offers a few attractions. The Castle of Castelnaud built in the 12th Century and is now a war museum. The castle of Marvel constructed under the orders of the Viscounts of Limoges in the 13th Century and the Castle of Beauvais built in the 15th Century.
Nontron is the largest town in what is called 'Périgord Vert' (Green Perigord), a vast area of lush valleys and trickling streams. It is here that you will also find the acclaimed Perigord-Limousin Regional National Park. The Bois de Beausac is a large green area that surrounds this small community and has been preserved by the regional government as an area of natural beauty. The parkland has in places left to the wild in order to attract the growth of native wild plants that do not have a chance in much of the area because of cultivation.
Nontron is also famous for its knife making. The methods and techniques used in making these have remained virtually unchanged since the fifteenth century when they were first in manufacture. In fact the workshop where they are hand made by local craftsman is the oldest continually running cutlery forge in France. It is certainly worth a visit to this exceptional piece of local history, still in the making.
In early April, every two years, the towns people of Nontron celebrate the 'Bellows Festival' (le Carnaval des Soufflets) by dressing up in nightshirts, cotton caps, clogs, masks and, last but not least, carrying the all-important bellows. The tradition dates back to the carnival celebrations of the Middle Ages, when the people of Nontron used their bellows to purify the city air and free it from bad spirits. Nowadays, this festival marks the end of Lent.
There is a market every Saturday and festivals in the town throughout the summer. The local open-air swimming pool is also available throughout the summer months.