An incredibly picturesque spot on the edge of the River Dordogne, Bergerac is embraced by rolling fields and lush vineyards, and of course is well-known as the birth place of satirist and dramatist, Cyrano de Bergerac. And even though it seems like there is an almost endless list of towns and cities throughout France that proudly uphold its gastro reputation, Bergerac most definitely has to be listed as one of them.
Known as the gateway to the Dordogne, Bergerac is a beautiful riverside city that’s home to a sumptuous array of bistros, cafés and restaurants that will delight your inner foodie. With the focus firmly fixed on local produce such as wild boar, partridge, river trout, pâté and of course that fine delicacy – truffle – you certainly won’t go hungry.
The city dates back to the 11th century when it was home to the region’s only Dordogne River crossing. This gave it strategic prominence and Bergerac flourished; soon profiting from the export of local produce which included, of course, Bordeaux wine. Another export which blossomed alongside its wine industry was tobacco, and today you can learn more about the region’s history of tobacco cultivation in the National Tobacco Museum, located in the old town.
In fact if you only have time to visit one part of the city, don’t miss the old town. Located close to the river, this part of Bergerac oozes olde worlde charm, featuring a fine selection of restored medieval buildings, narrow twisting streets and lovely public squares. Amble to your heart’s content, gazing up at the exposed beams and timber architecture of the ancient buildings, or stop to sip a frothy cappuccino on a shady terrace. Even better, sip a glass of the local wine – such as a Bergerac Sec or the sweet Monbazillac variety – and you’ll soon discover what all the fuss is about.
Travel tip: You’re in Castle Country – Enjoy!
The area in and around Bergerac is dotted with castles, many of which are open to the public and make for a fascinating day out.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Bergerac changed hands between the French and the English during the Hundred Years War, and later, protestants suffered persecution during the Wars of Religion. Many castles in the area date back hundreds of years and changed hands numerous times, bearing witness to these troubled times and each playing their own part in history.
The Chateau de Bridoire is a stunning protestant fortress dating back to the 15th century featuring round towers, an internal courtyard and numerous restored rooms. It was damaged in the late 16th century by Marshal Monluc’s troops but was later restored, and has featured in more recent renovation works to bring it back to its former glory.
Chateau de Monbazillac blends medieval fortifications with Renaissance characteristics. Take a tour around its renovated interior and landscaped gardens before enjoying a taste of the sweet Monbazillac wine that is produced here. See the vaulted cellars, home to over 3,000 bottles of Monbazillac wine, before wandering into the garden terrace to take in the far-reaching views across the Dordogne valley and surrounding Bergerac vineyards.
Another castle that’s well worth a visit is Chateau Lanquais. Dating back to the 12th century, the castle straddles many different periods in history which is evident in its architecture. As well as numerous defensive fortifications, Lanquais features the remains of medieval foundations and a Renaissance castle built in the early 17th century at the hands of Charles IX.
Bergerac Things To Do
Bringing Bergerac wine out of the shadows
Maison du Vin
Any attraction named Maison du Vin is well worth a visit, and this one is no exception. Probably one of the finest buildings in Bergerac, this former monastery is home to beautiful 16th century cloisters. Now a museum dedicated to wine, visitors can drop into the wine library, visit the cellar and explore the ‘Wine Is a Journey’ exhibition. Located on 1 Rue des Récollets.
On the subject of wine, no trip to Bergerac would be complete without a local tasting session. A massive 125 sq km of vineyards surround Bergerac, and although the region has been long overshadowed by its big brother Bordeaux, Bergerac has more than its fair share of gems. From day excursions to informal cellar tours, you’ll find a huge variety of wine-tasting sessions on offer. Find out more at the Maison du Vin or check with the town’s tourist information office.
Caves of Lascaux
Discovered by accident by a group of teenagers in 1940, the Caves of Lascaux hold some of the world’s earliest known cave paintings. Dating back to the Paleolithic period and thought to be around 17,300 years old, the paintings consist of large animals that were known to have existed at that time. The caves are now listed by UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are located near the village of Montignac and are easily accessed by car – however, the ‘real’ caves were closed in the 1960’s as the breath of thousands of visitors was causing damage to the paintings. Instead, visitors can now access a replica of the caves nearby – known as Lascaux II – just 200 metres away.
Make a splash
The Dordogne River is a major appeal for visitors. Take a leisurely stroll along the banks, take a gentle boat trip or get the adrenalin pumping with a spot of kayaking, canoeing or even water-skiing. Ideal for all ages and the perfect way to stave of chants of “I’m bored”.
Bergerac Top Restaurants
Our selection of restaurants in Bergerac
24240 Moulin de Malfourat, Bergerac
Tel: 05 53 58 30 10
The fabulous Michelin-starred La Tour des Vents will take you on a voyage of discovery through the local region, serving up delicious regional dishes with such specialties as foie gras, veal served in cocottes and Grand Marnier soufflé. Enjoy views across the Monbazillac vineyards while you dine. Prices range from €41 for a three course meal.
21 pl. Louis-de-la-Bardonnie, 24100 Bergerac
Phone: 05 53 22 49 46
An affordable but quality restaurant, located in the Michelin Bib Gourmand guide. The décor is elegant and the menu is mouth-watering – watch the chef at work in the open kitchens preparing such delights as fois gras, duck and locally caught fish. Menus on offer are a 4 course menu for €39 and a 5 course menu for €46.
Au golf des Vigiers, 24240 Monestier
Phone: 05 53 61 50 39
A charming restaurant serving gourmet cuisine in stylish surroundings. Fine ingredients and seasonal produce such as truffles make excellent dishes, perfectly matched with local wines (including some from the estate’s own vineyard).
€45.00 – €110.00: lunch menu weekdays
€45.00 – €110.00: lunch menu at weekends
€70.00 – €110.00: dinner menu all nights
Bergerac Driving Distances
Driving distances from Bergerac to nearby cities
Périgueux: 48.5 km / 30 miles
Angoulême: 110km / 68 miles
Bordeaux: 112km / 70 miles
Brive-la-Gaillarde: 120km / 75 miles
Montauban: 180km / 112 miles
Bergerac Tourist Office
97 rue Neuve d’Argenson, 24100 Bergerac
05 53 57 03 11
Bergerac is typically a fairly expensive area for property. This stems from its location, fine wine and accessibility to Bordeaux and Perigueux, along with its pleasant riverside position which is an obvious draw for tourists and inhabitants alike.
British buyers are drawn to Bergerac, many choosing to settle permanently. In general the number of properties requiring renovation has dropped significantly over the years, and the council introduced numerous rules controlling renovation work in the area to protect the medieval architecture. Property is expensive, but thanks to the high numbers of tourists, the prosperity of the city and of course the quality of life, it is considered a worthwhile investment.