The region of Aquitaine is made up of four Departments, Landes, Gironde, Lot-et-Garonne and we are in the Dordogne, named after the river that runs through east to west joining the Garonne estuary just north of Bordeaux before heading out into the Atlantic.
Bergerac (15mins south-east) is our nearest town and a lot of people miss out as they just fly in or out of the airport without exploring the town itself. Being right on the river, historically it grew on trade of course, especially the flat-bottomed barges (gabares) taking the wine on to Bordeaux for shipping to England (the biggest market for centuries). These days the barges carry sightseers up the river rather than barrels.
The town is a mix of very old half-timbered (colombage) houses set ‘cheek by jowl’ in the narrow streets and a more modern shopping centre around the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral – the old town is mostly traffic free and it’s lovely to wander around the cobbled streets, through the little squares passing the statue of Cyrano de Bergerac the long nosed hero who apparently never visited the town!
Enjoy the various market days and last but not least you can of course sample the local specialities while sitting outside one of the many cafes & restaurants or soak up the atmosphere along the river bank.
Bordeaux (75mins west) is the port city of the Garonne estuary and the centre of the famed wine-growing region. It’s known for its Gothic Cathédrale St-André, as well as its many fine and contemporary art museums and 18th- and 19th-century mansions.
Public gardens line the curving river quays, and grand Place de la Bourse opens to the water, with the Three Graces fountain at its centre.
Duras (40mins south) the village is set up high on a rocky plateau overlooking the dropt valley, a perfect defensive position and dominated by the most fabulous Chateau, open to the public and well worth a visit.
Wine has been produced in the area since the 12th century and the “Maison des Vins” has a small tasting room within the castle courtyard where you can sample the wines. It’s a lively place to visit with brocante, craft & night markets, medieval tournaments and hot-air balloon rides.
Issigeac (30mins south east) is a very pretty medieval ecclesiastical town in the centre of the Pays des Bastides. It was built in concentric circles according to the same pattern as the “Bouyricou”, the traditional Périgord basket which you can still buy in the local markets.
The church of Saint Félicien (16C) overlooks the central square with its octagonal bell tower in the late gothic style. On the other side of the square is the Bishops’ Palace (17C). It now hosts the Tourist Office and its rooms are used for exhibitions.
On the ancient ramparts, discover the 17C Prevôté, a Carthusian monastery and after your walk enjoy a glass of something cool in one of the little bars or restaurants – the regular Sunday market is a feast for the eyes and in the summer the night markets here are not to be missed.
Lalinde (30mins east from Bergerac) was the first English bastide, founded in 1267 by Henry III Plantagenet but it suffered serious damage during the Hundred Years War; there is however still some medieval half-timbered buildings to admire.
Lalinde is on the river Dordogne but as this section was difficult to navigate a canal was built over 150 years ago between Mauzac and Tulieres, the views from locks at Mouleydier are worth a visit and the canal is a great place for walking and fishing.
The chateau de Lanquais at Saint Capraise de Lalinde is unusual as half of it is Medieval and half is Renaissance so here you can admire both architectural styles.
Périgueux (25mins north east) is the ‘capital’ of the Dordogne department but is actually on the river Isle rather than the Dordogne. It has been in existence since neolithic times, and from Roman times, you can still see the Vesone Tower and the remains of the amphitheatre, the Chateau Barrière dates from the early middle-ages.
Périgueux also contains an interesting medieval and renaissance centre, with attractive boulevards – these are concentrated around the cathedral Saint Front, this was built in the Byzantine style with its cluster of domes and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was the model for the Sacré Coeur church in Montmartre, Paris. There are regular markets in the covered marketplace and some lovely places to sit with a coffee or meal and watch the world go by.
Saint-Emilion (50mins west) is recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage cultural landscape, two thousand years of history between men and vines are waiting for you, a remarkable example of historical vineyards that have survived the centuries but seem to remain untouched by time.
Take a meander through the cobbled streets of this lovely small town and admire the architecture and of course you have to drop in to one of the many caves and enjoy a wine tasting or maybe a chilled glass of award winning sparkling wine while sitting in the 14th century cloisters.
Food and Wine
Goose, Duck and Foie Gras
We are lucky to have many farms in the area that produce high quality & delicious goose and duck meat, pâté and of course the ultimate foie gras. You will get to taste some of these products during your stay with us or perhaps at the local Auberge, Bistro or Restaurants.
From Bergerac along the river plain you will see a multitude of soft fruits growing, peaches, nectarines, apricots & kiwi. In the area further south, around Duras and Monségur you will come across field after field of sunflowers, these are at their best during July (depending on the sunshine of course) there are also acres of plum orchards, some of which go to produce the famous Agen prunes.
From late September the grape harvest begins. The autumn months also see the nuts beginning to appear, walnuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts, then of course we have the mushrooms and infamous truffles.
Perigueux local information
Aquitaine and Dordogne area Information
The city of Bordeaux
River Cruises from Bergerac
Canoeing on the River Dordogne
Bike hire based in Bergerac
Hot-air Balloon rides, Duras
Gardens of the Dordogne
We’ve enjoyed a glass of Saint-Emilion sparkling wine here: