On a recent visit to the Dordogne, we visited the town of Bergerac. We did have a reason, as we had arranged an appointment with a vet there, to stamp the dogs’ Pet Passports before our long journey home.
The weather could have been kinder to us – it was overcast when we parked in the town’s central carpark. We didn’t know it then, but we had about an hour before the Heaven’s opened and we all got drenched!
Once parked, we popped into the Tourist Office, where they gave us a self-guided walking tour that pointed out 26 places of interest. So the four of us, with the dogs, set off to see what Bergerac had to offer …
Following the map, we passed a lovely cafe called Fly Away, and we had to stop!
Fly Away cafe is located in rue Bourbarraud, in a quiet setting off the main road. As with all our favourite cafes in France, there was outdoor pavement seating – important for us as we had the dogs with us.
They serve lovely food, but we had only stopped for a drink – two fruit drinks and two coffees (and we fought with the children over who got the complimentary chocolate!)
After we refuelled, we continued on our walking tour. At this point the rain was still holding off.
Bergerac is a little town in the Dordogne region of southwest France, with a lovely little indoor fresh produce market.
Just outside was a man selling Perigord Truffles …
In case you wanted to know the cost, we ‘believe’ he wanted €200 per kilo.
There were also some lovely little, unique shops in the cobbled streets of the Old Town. This wooden toy shop was rather endearing.
The Old Town is known for its half-timbered buildings. Passing right through the town is the Dordogne River showing the historic trading and warehousing areas.
The wharves, where now only tourist barges ply their trade, show how important this mediaeval town was to merchants, and traders across the region. Traditional barges now cruise the river, taking tourists on river trips. On fair weather days this is a lovely way to see the areas villages and chateaus.
The town has a modern centre with plenty of shopping areas and cafes to grab a drink or lunch.
Cyrano de Bergerac
Further towards the river is the statue of Cyrano de Bergerac (the famous long-nosed French lover from the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand). Cyrano de Bergerac was actually a real novelist and poet as well – but the fictional character from the play has a statue devoted to him here.
Here, also, were some fabulously pretty houses painted in bright colours and festooned with flowers.
Across the square is the Cloître des Récollets, a 12th-century cloister and now Maison des Vins that showcases the region’s wine. Good Bergerac wines include Pecharmant, Monbazillac and Saussignac. The cloister hosts an exhibition showing the history of Bergerac wines and its 13 appellations.
Bergerac Old Town
Nearby is the Musée de Tabac (National Tobacco Museum), which documents the history of tobacco in the area. Tobacco is still an important crop in the region, that you will probably see growing in the fields. Unfortunately, on the day we visited, the museum was closed for a very long lunch! As the rain was falling by this time we decided not to stay.
Around the town, and particularly in the historic old town, there are some very interesting modern statues. The highlight of a trip to Bergerac has to be the Old Town. There are some lovely streets and squares to explore, and a variety of boutique-type shops. This area is centred around Place Pelissiere. This is an attractive square bordered with cafes and restaurants and always full of flowers. Here also is St James Church with its beautiful bell tower. Place Pelissiere also neighbours a number of narrow medieval streets including Rue St Clar and Rue St James, with half-timbered houses and interesting architecture. Towards the river is the Place Mirpe with more half-timbered buildings and a good place to sit in some welcome shade in the summer. Here there are open-air cafes where you can pass a very pleasant hour people watching.
Bergerac Museums to Visit
- Musée du Tabac – In the maison Peyrarede with many artefacts relating to the history social and cultural of tobacco.
- Maison des Vins – an exhibition of the history of Bergerac wines but also a place where you can taste.
- Musée Costi – A vaulted cellar with bronze and plaster sculptures by Constantin Papachristopoulos.
- Musée de la Ville – the town museum contains exhibits related to the history of Bergerac and the importance of the river and the vineyards
We will definitely visit Bergerac again … when it isn’t raining!
When in the Dordogne, we stayed in a Eurocamp site in Le Bugue.