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Aquitaine / Dordogne / Bergerac

Bergerac is a picturesque commune in the popular department of the Dordogne in south-western France. Close to the Dordogne River, the town is famous, not least of all as the centre of the Bordeaux wine region with its selection of some of the finest vintages in France.

The town is an important tourist destination with attractions that include museums, spectacular flower beds, a delightful old town and even two statues of the town’s famous namesake, Cyrano de Bergerac, hero of both the play and film.

Bergerac benefits from being only about 5 kilometres from Bergerac-Roumaniere airport which caters for flights from several UK airports, including those by the budget airline, Ryanair. There is also a SNCF railway station with services to Bordeaux and Sarlat-la-Caneda.

The Bergerac area enjoys a pleasant temperate climate with hot summers and cool winters. Hot summer days can be interrupted by refreshing showers but conditions are less affected by cool Atlantic winds than neighbouring coastal areas. Bergerac can become busy in peak season but is generally less crowded than nearby Bordeaux.

As one of the most beautiful rivers in France, the Dordogne at Bergerac has much to offer the visitor. It provides opportunities for a wide range of activities: walking, fishing and organised boat trips, ‘gabare’, which enable the visitor to see the town from a different perspective. Generally the longer trips offer greater variety and are more worthwhile.

The town of Bergerac itself is quite compact in size which makes it easy to explore on foot. The ‘vieille ville’ with its heritage of carefully preserved half-timbered buildings makes a very pleasant area for a leisurely wander. Here you will find the town’s Museum of Tobacco which is sited in historic Peyrarede House. The museum reveals the history of the commodity which has been important to the region through the ages.

Another interesting museum can be found in Place de la Mypre. The Wine and River Transport Museum shows how the history of the river and wine production has been historically interlinked. The wine showroom, ‘Maisons des Vins’, is situated in the old Recollects Cloisters. These 12th century buildings are also the venue for occasional concerts during the summer as well as a Christmas market in December.

Up from the old town is a more recently developed area where you will find typically modern shops, amenities and buildings.

The area around Bergerac produces over 13 wine appellations and is particularly noted for the velvety white wine known as Montbazillac which is especially popular for celebrating special occasions. Pecharmant and Saussignac are other labels to look out for. For some excellent red wine you should head for the smaller producers to be found on the slopes to the north of the river.

Bergerac is a lively town, offering a good selection of street entertainments, restaurants and markets. Traditional markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays when the town really comes alive with vibrant displays of local produce. This is definitely the best place to purchase those fresh vegetables and flowers.

The town is famous for its gourmet heritage with dishes largely based on goose and duck, cooked in combination with truffles, mushrooms, walnuts and strawberries. Be prepared to forget any diets! You can choose from several good restaurants including La Scala, D’un Terroir a l’Autre and Le Moderne.

Bergerac provides a typically French experience in a delightful and compact form.

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