A picture-perfect town of honey-coloured buildings dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, Bergerac is a peaceful base for exploring the Dordogne and indulging in fine dining. Don’t let that put you off if funds are limited, however. You can live it up in Bergerac without living to regret it when you get your bank statement...
You don’t normally associate camping with luxury, but you can have both with Simply Canvas Aquitane
. Operating from a five-hectare site near Saint-Jean-de-Duras, a small village 20 minutes from Bergerac, the company offers gîtes and luxury safari tents with breakfast and dinner served outside on long wooden tables or in the large stone barn (weather depending). There’s nothing grotty about this camping, though: Enjoy solar-powered lighting, separate bathrooms, and a pool. If you prefer your accommodation in a more permanent setting, Hotel de Bordeaux
in the town’s place Gambetta offers excellent value and has a pool. Hotel de France
, also in Place Gambetta, is another comfortable base for exploring Bergerac.
Dining on the Cheap
One of the best ways to save money without depriving yourself is to opt for the “ouvrier” or workers lunch served on weekdays in many restaurants. Enjoy a hearty 3- or even 4-course meal for about 12 euros. Sometimes you’ll even get wine included in the price. If the idea of a picnic appeals, visit the market (almost every town holds one, usually once a week). Here you can buy everything from foie gras to Bergerac and Cahors wines, with stalls offering free nibbles to taste. You could also sample one of the dozens of ferme-auberge.
These farms serve massive meals of home-grown, home-reared, or home-made produce, and prices are very reasonable. Eating at Le Vin ‘Quatre
on Rue St. Clar may be the high culinary point of your budget break in Bergerac. This much-loved restaurant offers warm and excellent service, with an imaginative menu of perfectly cooked local food. Even better, the value is superb. Another great restaurant offering superb value is Cote Campagne on Rue Colonel de Chadois. Here, the set menu can include everything from foie gras to duck, all beautifully served and wonderfully cooked.
Seeing the Sights for Less
When you’re in the Dordogne region, you really have to see the famous cave paintings, the most well-known of which are the Lascaux caves, near Montignac, north of Sarlat and open from April to November. Paintings here have been dated to 15000 BC. You should also have a look at the Caves of Padirac
(near Rocamadour) and the La Grotte du Grand Roc near Les Eyzies. These caves feature unusual triangular crystallised rock formations, as well as the conventional stalagmites and stalactites. Save money by purchasing combined tickets that include entrance to other caves in the Vezeze Valley. At the other end of the historic homes spectrum are the Dordogne’s famous chateaux
There are some 100 chateaux in the region, ranging from ruins to spectacularly maintained, inhabited mansions. Many are set in breathtaking surroundings, enjoying great views across the Dordogne river, with the finest located to the west of Sarlat at Castlenaud and Marqueyssac. Visiting all of the chateaux could be an expensive business, but there are ways to save money. Combined tickets are available, which allow entry to Château de Castelnaud and the Château Marqueyssac, for example. Children under 10 often go free, and some charge less for visits before 1pm in peak season.