Bergerac, a stunning town located in the Purple Perigord (Périgord Pourpre) region of the Dordogne department in SW France. The town boasts a beautiful medieval old town with winding lanes, charming squares, and cute boutiques. This article will help you plan the best trip to the region, with tips on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Bergerac.
Bergerac is labeled as a Ville d’art et d’histoire (Towns of Art and History) and that should tell you all you need to know about the myriad of cultural visits and activities. A maze of medieval streets and squares with half-timbering houses and pointed windows are just a couple of the architectural visions you won’t want to miss.
Historically, Bergerac was a very important port town due to its strategic location on the banks of the Dordogne. This made it an economic power in France at the time as many wines and other French products were exported through Bergerac, to Bordeaux, and across the Atlantic.
If you have more time to spend around Bergerac don’t miss my articles about the best day trips from Bergerac, Sarlat, the most beautiful villages, gardens, and castles in Dordogne. Also, check out my article about the best places to stay in Dordogne.
Best things to do in Bergerac
Discover the old town of Cyrano
Take a stroll around the beautiful streets of the old town. You’ll see ancient timbered houses, the charming Place de la Mirpe, the buzzing Place du Docteur Cayla, and beautiful architecture. The narrow, cobblestone roads are flanked by colorful flowerbeds and charming cafés. Follow this map from the tourist office if you want a quick look at the best things to see (you can get a physical copy of it at the tourist office).
The town is often known for an odd but famous story about French satirist and dramatist, Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac. He wrote works combining political satire and science-fantasy in the early- to mid-1600s. There are two beautiful statues of him in his 17th-century clothing and with his hat and big nose in Bergerac and many tourists line up to take photos with them.
But here’s the funny part of the story – Cyrano de Bergerac never actually lived in, or even visited, the town of Bergerac in the Périgord! Cyrano was born in Paris and decided to add de Bergerac (the town his parents came from) to his name to impress people.
Embark on a wine education at Les Maisons des Vins
Les Maisons des Vins de Bergerac is located on the Quai Cyrano along the river in the stunning, 17th-century Cloître des Récollets. The impressive space brings together wine, culture, and tourism so there’s something for everyone! During the day wine tastings are free so don’t miss out on a chance to try the Bergerac or Duras wines.
In the evening (starting at 18:00) they open their wine bar, which is an absolute must when in Bergerac. Grab a table on the terrace for a stunning view of the river or in the beautiful courtyard and snack on tapas as you enjoy local wines. Opening hours can be found here.
Enjoy a bike trip on Quai Cyrano
The river bank known as Quai Cyrano is one of the most charming parts of Bergerac. You can take a stroll to enjoy the sights, but cycling along the river is much more fun! You can rent bikes for a fairly low price at the tourist office of Bergerac.
If you enjoy cycling, there is a 38km “voie verte” – a safe, green cycling path along the Dordogne River that offers beautiful scenery and a nice little workout. You can see all the details here.
Another option is an easy 2-hour bike trail from the tourist office to Parc de Pombonne (which I’ll talk about later). Check it out here. There are other tours you can do if you have a bike for a few days. See more trails and paths here.
Need to rent a bike in Bergerac? Here are more details about the opening hours and prices.
Indulge in local delicacies at the market
Bergerac has a great covered market, called la Halle de Bergerac, in the city center. Currently undergoing renovations, the new market, which will reopen in November 2023, is expected to be a fantastic, buzzing spot for food, drinks, and fun.
For now, however, you can enjoy the open market which is one of the best markets in Purple Perigord. Bergerac is strategically located between many famous agricultural areas in Dordogne, Gironde, and Lot et Garonne. That means you’ll find all the best local products from walnuts to duck products, wines and sweet treats, and the best fruits and vegetables in the region.
The weekly market takes place all year long every Wednesday and Saturday morning at Place Gambetta and around the church from 7 am to 1 pm.
In the summer you can also enjoy a special summer market, Les Estivales: Les Tablées du Terroir, which usually takes place on Monday evenings at Port de Bergerac Quai Salvette. There’s a variety of delicious regional food and live music concerts, perfect for sunset drinks and dinners. As you know by now, the French love night markets in summer, and there are many to be found in this foodie region! You can see other night markets in the region here or here.
Savor delicious wine at Château de Monbazillac
Château de Monbazillac is one of the most stunning, imposing castles of Perigord Pourpre and is located only about 10 minute’s drive from Bergerac. It’s a must-see when you visit the region both for its wines and for its architecture.
The Monbazillac wine appellation is renowned around the world for its sweet white, with Château de Monbazillac being the focal point of this appellation. One of the best things to do when visiting Bergerac is a few hours’ trip to the chateau for wine tasting. While you’re there, take some time to discover the interior of the gorgeous chateau and the charming garden.
You can book your visit to Château de Monbazillac – here.
Apart from the traditional winery at Château de Monbazillac, you can also enjoy a variety of interactive activities in the Monbazillac vineyards such as electric scooters (a longer version of the same trip), quad biking, and more.
Stroll through one of the best markets in the region in Issigeac
Issigeac is one of the most charming villages in Perigord, which is well worth a visit when in the region. However, the main attraction is the famous Sunday morning market, one of the best and most beautiful markets in the southwest of France.
Rows and rows of colorful stalls selling cheese, strawberries, nuts, wine, handmade picnic baskets, flowers, fresh bread, and much more are spread all over the cobblestone streets of this beautiful medieval town.
If you’re traveling in the Bergerac area on a Sunday, this market is a must. Just be sure to be there early as the market gets very busy and crowded after 11 am.
Take a dip in Lac de Pombonne
Five minutes’ drive from the center of Bergerac will get you to the Pombonne park where you’ll find a beautiful lake with a swimming beach. That’s where the locals go in the summer months and it’s perfect to cool down if you’re visiting in summer but want to escape the heat of the town center. There are toilets and a play area for kids nearby.
There’s a great beach restaurant with delicious food by the lake called La Guinguette de Pombonne. If you want to have a table in the summer, be sure to reserve a spot. Every Friday, there are live music concerts at the Guinguette which you can enjoy even if you didn’t book a table. They also offer takeaway which you can take to the beach.
Visit one of Bergerac’s impressive museums
Bergerac is labeled as the city of arts and history and there’s always something there to remind you of that, from the statutes on the streets to the fascinating museums in the city center.
Start your trip with a visit to Dordonha, a free art museum located in the historic center of Bergerac. There are three exhibitions, all located in a stunning building. The first one is the Costi Museum which displays a collection of bronze and plaster sculptures. The first floor is dedicated to the Center for the Interpretation of Architecture and Heritage with an immersive exhibition that details the long history of Bergerac. The museum is open from July to September – see the opening hours here.
Another interesting museum to visit if you have time (but is not a must-see if you only have one day in Bergerac) is the Musée du Tabac, situated at the stunning Maison Peyrarède. The museum tells the history of the tobacco industry in the region and the history of the plant in general. Note that the explanations are in French.
Embark on a Gabarre boat journey on the historic Dordogne river
Gabarre boats are traditional riverboats that were historically used for transporting goods along the Dordogne River. Today the Gabarres are popular for leisure cruises, offering visitors a unique way to explore the picturesque Dordogne River and transporting them back in time. It’s one of the most charming and unique ways to discover the history of Bergerac.
The tour starts at Quai Salvette and operates from April to October. During the summer there’s a high demand for these tours so reserving your places ahead of time is highly recommended. You can see all the details, including opening hours and ticket prices here.
Discover one of the Bastide towns of Dordogne
Bastides are fortified towns that were built all over this region, known as Gascogne at the time, during the 13th and 14th centuries. The Dordogne department is home to ten bastide towns, some of which are located close enough to Bergerac for a little day trip!
There is usually a main square with arcades dividing the town into different blocks. Today, many of the bastide towns have turned those squares into lively spots with cute cafés, boutiques, and brocades. Some of them have been ranked in the official listing of France’s most beautiful villages.
The closest one to visit near Bergerac is Eymet, a charming village where you’ll certainly be able to find your way around speaking English as many Brits own properties here. The town offers plenty of restaurants, fun summer events, and a weekly market every Thursday. Read my article about Eymet before you go there on a day trip from Bergerac.
If you don’t mind a little drive, I highly recommend visiting Monpazier, another stunning bastide, which is labeled as one of France’s most beautiful villages.
Where to eat in Bergerac
There are plenty of great restaurants in the city center and enough variety to cover everyone’s taste, from traditional French or Perigordian food to more modern fusion or worldly cuisine.
Here are a few I can personally recommend:
L’authentique – they serve delicious, elegant food for relatively reasonable prices.
Aux Cèpes Enchantés – This is a traditional restaurant that will transport you back in time with its Perigordian cuisine.
L’Imparfait – This restaurant is more upmarket and chic, and also a little more pricey, but is a great spot for a special treat
Where to stay in Bergerac
Bergerac offers a variety of accommodation options, from fancy hotels to beautiful B&Bs and cozy countryside houses. Here are some of my recommendations for where to stay in and around Bergerac:
A small, charming B&B right in the center of Bergerac, near the famous Place de la Myrpe. Location is everything!
If you’re staying for more than just a weekend and want to be able to cook, I recommend this apartment in the city center.
A 10-minute walk from the center of Bergerac you’ll find this stunning B&B with an outdoor pool. This little gem has only three rooms and is located in a quieter part of town.
If you want to have a more unique experience when visiting the region, I highly recommend Des Vignes et des Songes with their five quirky huts.
How to get to Bergerac
You’re in luck! Bergerac is one of the easiest cities to travel to in Dordogne. There is an airport and a train station. The airport serves cities in Great Britain, the Netherlands, and the Baltic Sea.
If you decide to travel by train, it’s an easy trip that lasts just over an hour from Bordeaux. Check out the SNCF website for times and ticket prices.
Be sure to check out my other article about the Dordogne region before traveling there:
Where to stay in Dordogne
What to do, see and eat in Sarlat
The most beautiful villages to visit in Dordogne
The best castles (chateaux) to visit in Dordogne
The most beautiful gardens in Dordogne
The best things to do with kids in Dordogne
The most beautiful villages in Purple Perigord
The best places to do Kayaking on the Dordogne River
A day trip to Eymet, a beautiful village in Dordogne.
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via Lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂