Sitting on the banks of the Dordogne, medieval Bergerac has a long and turbulent history, and is one of the largest towns in the region. During the middle ages, the town changed hands repeatedly between the French and the English, until it was reclaimed for good by the French king Charles VII in 1450. It was also a Protestant stronghold during the 16th and 17th centuries.
On arriving in Bergerac, we headed straight to the old town where we picked up a map with a self-guided walking tour. The town’s medieval centre isn’t enormous, it only takes an hour or so to walk around it, but it is very attractive. The old town is full of well-preserved timber-clad and light-coloured stone houses, and there are lots of flowers everywhere, adding to its charms.
We followed the walking trail around the winding medieval streets and down towards the river, where we enjoyed great views over the magnificent Dordogne. On the way down to the river, we passed a water level (above) that showed how high the water level had been when the Dordogne has broken its banks over the years. There was also an abandoned wooden boat down by the water’s edge, a reminder of the city’s past as an important trading hub when boats would transport goods up and down the river.
One of my favourite things about Bergerac was the statues of Cyrano de Bergerac, the hero of Edmond Rostand’s play, dotted around the town. There’s a colourful statue of the big-nosed hero on top of the steps of the Place Pélissière beside the 12th-century Église Saint-Jacques. And another statue made out of stone in a little garden in the middle of the Place de la Mirpe.
After spending a good hour or so walking around the town, we stopped off for a late lunch near the Place Pélissière. I enjoyed our day out in Bergerac, it’s a pleasant, pretty town and a nice place to spend a relaxing couple of hours strolling past some very attractive old buildings.