The Storybook Experience that is Bergerac, France
One of the stops that I made during my whirlwind adventure to the Bordeaux wine region was in Bergerac, in the Dordogne of France. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Up to that moment every one of my experiences had been pretty spectacular, enough so that I’ve really been inspired to freshen up my French skills, kiss this life au revoir, and venture into the countryside of France for a new one.
Bergerac is about a 2 hour bus ride and a one and a half hour train ride from Bordeaux. The Bergerac Airport has flights to and from Marrakech as well as different parts of England, thus making it a favorite destination for English tourists and retirees. There is hope that more flights from various other destinations will be added to the flight schedules in this local hub.
From the moment my bus crossed over the old bridge and through the borders of Bergerac, I knew my time there was going to be pretty special. The sun was slowly setting on the Dordogne river with the shimmering colors of yellow and gold glistening over the water and off the wooden boats.
Bergerac’s city center is like a walk back in time, a step into a storybook wonderland; sleepy and sweet, pretty and calm, especially in the older part of town where narrow alleyways and winding cobblestone streets remind you of something wonderful you only imagined as a child.
It would come as no surprise then that there is actually a story written around this lovely place. Cyrano de Bergerac, which is a fictional tale inspired by the very real Hercule-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac who was not native of Bergerac (but of Paris), but who changed his name so as to qualify to become a musketeer, an honor given only to those from southwestern France (Gascony). The real Cyrano died in the same way the fictional Cyrano did and some think the character of Roxanne, the love interest in the play, was based after the real Cyrano’s cousin, Catherine de Cyrano. Walk around the town and images of the fictional hero are displayed, further emphasizing the air of romance felt throughout.
Spend time walking through the covered or farmers markets which offer local produce and other products. Take in a concert often hosted at the Recollets Cloister (built-in 1630) which is also the home of Bergerac Wines, where you can taste, shop, and enjoy some of the regions best wines.
There are countless bed and breakfasts in the area to suit your needs. I stayed at the very sweet, English-owned, Le Logis Plantagenet in a bedroom that overlooked one of the squares. I woke up to the sounds of church bells and birds singing, an experience I was thrilled to have capture on video as words could never truly describe how perfect it all was.
Take a bike tour around the vineyards of Bergerac and past the many chateaus and sunflower fields. Stop in for a picnic and an afternoon of games at the Chateau de Bridoire, a 15th century castle that has been salvaged and preserved to welcome guests and their families to spend time there while taking part in a series of fun activities and events.
Stop in and enjoy the views at Chateau Monbazillac, where you can take in the breathtaking sights of the Valley Dordogne. Try as you might to capture this through photography, you will find yourself unsatisfied. There’s too much beauty here for any single frame to grasp. A tasting of some Monbazillac wine at the castle will further complement the experience.
Don’t leave the area without stopping into Chateau Kalian, an organic vineyard owned and operated by Kilian Griaud. You can visit the vineyard, partake in a tasting experience, and even purchase your favorite wine there.
I had the pleasure of enjoying their crisp white wines while indulging in the food offered to me by my hosts. The views of the vineyard below, along with the breeze of that lovely afternoon are engraved in my memory as one of the most beautiful moments any traveler can experience, surrounded by friendly faces, good food, great wine, and a picturesque scenery. Even now as I write about it, it all feels like a dream. A beautiful fairytale dream, with all the colors and sounds that inspire a smile on your face. I absolutely adored everything about Bergerac and of the lovely friends I made there, most especially Pascal Dupouy, of the Bergerac Tourism office, who forgave my horrid French, entertained me with his darling Spanish skills, and was the perfect host throughout my entire visit – even spending a great part of his birthday to tour me around. Felicidades nuevamente, mi amigo!
I will continue to share images and experiences from my other stops during my adventures throughout the Bordeaux wine region.
To see more photographs from the trip please visit the following links:
All photos taken with my SonyNEX 5R.
Disclosure: I was the blogger of choice by Atout France and their partners to share the Bordeaux wine experience with you. I traveled as their guest. All opinions are my own.[subscribe2]