BERGERAC
France|September 2020
Sandra Haurant is charmed by the historic queen of the Périgord Pourpre
Sandra Haurant

The town of Bergerac has been sitting on the banks of the Dordogne river in one form or another since the 10th century, and is now an inviting maze of streets lined with honey-colored, half-timbered buildings capped by russet rooftops. As a weekend destination, it is hard to beat; the medieval market town is compact enough to explore on foot, and if you have longer, there is plenty more to discover in the undulating countryside of the Périgord Pourpre.

Apéro hour

If you arrive in time for an apéritif, cross the Vieux Pont, head out of the old town, and join the locals for a riverside drink at the Bistro d’en Face, with its terrace overlooking the old town of Bergerac and the Dordogne. You can watch the traditional gabarres sail past as you sip. These boats are an integral part of the area’s history; they carried wine made here up the river and as far as northern Europe, bringing prosperity to Bergerac. Stay here for dinner, or wander back across the bridge and into the old town for dinner in the charming Villa Laetitia.

Nosing around

The morning light sets Bergerac’s streets off perfectly.

Don’t forget to look up as you stroll towards Place de la Myrpe and take in the higgledypiggledy brickwork of the half-timbered buildings with their strangely nautical rooftops. The shape is no coincidence – they were built by the same carpenters who built the hulls of boats.

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