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All roads lead to Bergerac and the river Dordogne

All roads lead to Bergerac and the river Dordogne

At the hub of several roads and the river Dordogne, this has always been a town that meant business.

All roads lead to Bergerac, at least it seems that way. Somehow it's hard to miss. That was probably why it's there. At the hub of several roads and the river Dordogne, this has always been a town that meant business.

Bergerac map

For over a thousand years, the river was a major trade route and the backbone of the textile industry. During the 100 years war between France and England, the Dordogne was the limit of English territory - the two sides happily glared at each other from opposite banks.


Bridge over Dordogne river

I’ve often noticed that when someone's good for the box office a French town will happily claim him as one of their own. So it is with Cyrano de Bergerac, he of the long nose, who poured out his heart to Roxane on behalf of his pal rather than himself.

There are Cyrano restaurants and statues a plenty. It's such a shame that he never came near the place for the real Cyrano's Bergerac was his private estate near Paris.

These days the historic old town reaches down to the riverbank. It's narrow alleyways and half-timbered houses have a story or two to tell. There are abundant restaurants and cafés tucked away in season.

Drive through the Dordogne during the summer and you may be curious about the fields of apparently very large lettuces. That's tobacco. Bergerac is home of the Musée d'Anthropologie du Tabac.

It's all about the dreaded weed and how it has shaped society for the last 4,000 years or so. The story includes the river trade and its flat-bottomed sailing barges called "Gabares".

These tough little craft carried wine, tobacco, and textiles down river to Bordeaux and onwards to sea-going vessels. These days they carry passengers. What better way to spend an afternoon?

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