Bienvenue to Bergerac, the heart of Bastide country. A staging point for Pilgrim’s since the 12th century, this part of the Perigord is all rolling vineyards, timber clad houses, fascinating markets, and chateaux. The gluggable gateway to southwest France, with its 12 recognised AOCs (Appellations d’origine contrôlée) Bergerac is an oenophile’s delight.
Bergerac itself might be little, but it comes rich in reputation. Perhaps most famous for the literary character Cyrano de Bergerac - whose prominent beak features largely across the town - breeze through Southampton airport and fly in, because Bergerac has plenty to nose about.
The best way to enjoy it is by bike, foot or boat. Nestled on the northern bank of the Dordogne River, the old town’s narrow alleyways and winding cobblestone streets entice visitors into pretty art galleries, chocolatiers and farmers markets. Or explore the waterways in a traditional gabarre.
Bergerac-Roumaniere airport lies southeast of the city centre. Fly to Bergerac from Southampton and use it as access the major tourist routes and cities across the Dordogne and Perigord. Sarlat, Agen and Marmande are all only an hour’s drive way.
Top things to see and do
The Maison des Vins de Bergerac is a great place to start any wine-shaped odyssey into this beautiful grape-producing region.
Great for family fun and not a smartphone in sight, the Chateau de Bridoire specialized in all things medieval from jousting to crossbows and quill writing.
Gently swaying next to the Chateau Bridoire is a maize maze called the Labyrinthe Vegetal Les Fees Meres. Don’t think about ‘Children of the Corn’ once you’re in.
Off the beaten track
If you’ve hired a bolthole and have a hankering for someone skilled and French to come and cook (it is your holiday, after all), call on Cecile’s Kitchen or Borie du Chevrier who can cater in your villa or holiday let.
Take to the water in a canoe, kids can traverse the (small) slides, try your hand at table tennis – you can even stay on site at Bergerac’s Aquapark.
Take to the high seas (ok, a cute boating lake) in pint-sized electric bateaux – choose ferries, speedboats and trawlers at the Miniature Port. Aye aye, captain.