Wine, sunflowers and tobacco
www.pays-bergerac-tourisme.com. One-time Protestant stronghold and capital of Périgord until the Revolution, Bergerac is the chief town of Périgord Pourpre, and prospers as a market for wines, maize, sunflowers and traditional tabac brun grown along the fertile valley.
The tourist office provides a walking map of the attractive old quarter, Vieux Bergerac, which centres on place de la Myrpe. Here a statue of the town’s most famous non-resident, Cyrano de Bergerac, stands surrounded by chestnut trees and ancient timber-framed houses faced with zig-zag brickwork. The 19thC playwright Edmond Rostand based the character of his lovelorn hero on a famous 17thC swordsman-cum-philosopher, Savinien de Cyrano, who probably never visited Périgord let alone Bergerac, but the town has embraced the legend with enthusiasm. Off the square, the small Musée du Vin includes a section on barrel-making and river transport (closed Mon); while the local Wine Council is based in the lovely Cloître des Recollets, place du Docteur-Cayla, with a fine 17th-18thC courtyard and cellars, The Musée du Tabac, rue de I’Ancien Port, airs a marvellous collection of carved pipes in the 15thC Maison Peyrarède.
The Bergerac area produces some of the most reputable French country wines. Everywhere you will see ventes directes offering wines, usually by the case, at (not always) advantageous prices. Côtes de Duras, centered on the town of Duras, to the south-west, is another reputable country wine appellation: particularly good dryish whites.
Villa holidays: Bergerac, its surroundings and the whole of the Dordogne offer many holiday rental properties.
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