The ancient city of Bergerac in France is located in the Périgord Dordogne region. Home to beautiful historic buildings and nestled on the Dordogne River it makes an ideal base for exploring the area. You’ll probably recognise the name from satirist Cyrano de Bergerac (the one with the rather large nose). But the town really is way more than one man. We absolutely fell in love with it, there’s plenty to do in Bergerac with kids and the atmosphere is super relaxed.
The colourful decorations sprinkled across the streets and many outdoor eateries give the city a real holiday feel. The whole of the Dordogne makes for a wonderful holiday in France with kids. The weather is amazing and many activities tend to happen outdoors. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Bergerac in the Dordogne.
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Things to do in Bergerac, France
There are so many family friendly things to do in Bergerac and the bonus is that most of them are based outdoors. This really is a brilliant French town for active history lovers.
Bergerac Boat Trip
Being located on the banks of the Dordogne River means Bergerac is the perfect place for a boat trip. You can hop on one of the traditional barges in the port of Bergerac and slowly idle along the river for half an hour each way. We were last minute as usual, buying our tickets and rushing aboard just before the boat left but that wasn’t a problem.
Commentary was completely in French but some boats will be multi lingual. We just spotting the wildlife along the river and watching local kids jump into the water.
You can buy tickets for the boats at the bottom of town right by the water in the quai area.
Explore Old Town Bergerac
To be honest, it’s all old town in Bergerac. The stunning medieval and renaissance buildings appear down every street. Exploring the city by foot is an absolute must. Seemingly each cobbled street ups the prettiness stakes! This town is straight out of a fairytale. You’ll find pointed windows and carved doors around every corner. The streets are narrow and bendy and there always seems to be a wonderful restaurant with tables spilling out on to the pavement around every corner.
For the most picturesque walking tour I recommend starting at the top. Find somewhere to park near the Église Notre Dame de Bergerac and pick a street to wander down. You’ll pass tiny squares, pavement cafes and tiny shops. Once you get to the river at the bottom of town, just choice another one to head back up.
Market days in Bergerac are Wednesday and Saturday and it is the perfect place to pick up a holiday souvenir. Many of which you’ll need to consume before you get home. Think fresh truffles and oozy cheeses! Market days are always fun and you’ll find Bergerac comes it’s most alive when full of sellers.
Église Notre Dame de Bergerac
Located at the top of town this beautiful 19th century church is well worth a visit. Its 80 metre tall tower can be and neo gothic design is one of the prettiest we spotted in the Dordogne. Inside you’ll find beautiful old paintings and a wonderful sense of calm.
Pop into a free museum
Of course being slap bang in the middle of wine country, Bergerac is home to Maison des Vines. A lovely little free to enter museum set in a gorgeous 17th century building. Here you’ll be given a map of vineyards to visit in the area. Another one worth popping into with the kids (even if it is just to escape the heat!) is the Bergerac Museum. It’s all about the history of the town and how the wine trade and Dordogne river shaped its future.
This is a brilliant model port kids can visit. They can pilot electric model boats including a trawler, ferry boat and the Mississippi steamer. Entrance to the Port Miniature is just €5.
Take a stroll along the river
You’ll find a lovely river walk from the quai area of town. Near where you get the boat. It’s called the Promenade Pierre Loti and takes you out into the surrounding countryside.
Day trips from Bergerac in France
Bergerac wine tours
Bergerac is know for its fine wines so a trip to a local vineyard is a must. Kids are accepted and even welcomed in most vineyards in the region so don’t be worried about rocking up with little ones in tow. The lush fields surrounding town make it one of the largest grape growing regions in the Aquitaine. You could easily hop in the car and pull in at one of the many vineyards advertising tastings (they tend to have signs on their gates). Or take part in an organised tour like these from Bergerac Wine Tours.
Lac De Pombonne
This is my favourite place for inland swimming in the Dordogne and still feels very much like a secret. Home to a small but beautiful lake and beach area. It’s popular with locals looking to cool off in the heat of the summer. There’s a lovely bar/restaurant with plenty of outdoor seating and lots of forest trails to explore should you get bored of the beach. Over summer there are life guards keeping watch over the water. Lac De Pombonne is around a 15 minute drive from Bergerac.
Visit a Chateaux
Breathtaking Chateaux are generously scattered across the whole of the Dordogne. Most of them are still privately owned and lived in. We found several industrious chateaux owners opened the doors to visitors and show you around parts of their home for a very small fee. You’ll see plenty of signs as you drive around.
This is also a great opportunity to practice your french. Most owners will not speak English which forced me to fully focus and speak the language. It was a brilliant way to get back into it. Although they would often have a translated informational guidebook for the trickier words. Tours will only take around an hour and the buildings are fascinating.
Of course not all are privately owned, these will be more professionally organised often with additional activities. Chateau de Lanquais just 25 minutes drive from Bergerac is one of the best in the area.
Where to eat in Bergerac, France
Bergerac is packed full of gourmet restaurants so you wont be disappointed when looking for dinner options. It does feel like a very foodie destination so most restaurants in town will be of a very high quality. Just find one you like the look of and sit down. My personal favourite restaurant in Bergerac is the River Side Restaurant down by the water. Pick a table on the outdoor terrace overlooking the river and watch the world go by. The fabulous food and location meant we returned several times during our trip.
Bergerac, France hotels
For a luxurious stay in a real French Chateau, treat yourselves to a stay at Chateaux Les Merles just 20 minutes drive from the centre of Bergerac. This is the perfect place to stay in Bergerac with kids. It has a swimming pools, is surrounded by beautiful forests and golf courses and even has a spa if you can find some time to relax.
For a hotel in Bergerac Town, try the great value Europ’ Hotel. Again it has a lovely outdoor pool which is perfect for letting the kids burn off some steam after a hot day exploring. And modern rooms with flat screen TVs and very welcome air con. There are some family sized rooms available. The hotel is just 5 minutes walk from the town centre.
Should you need something a little bigger, there are heaps of lovely cottage rentals scattered around the region.
Bergerac, France weather
If you’re visiting Bergerac over summer, expect the weather to be hot, hot, hot. You can expect temperatures to reach into the high 20s. This covers June until September. You’ll need to take your days slow and find some shade when the sun is at its highest. This is also when the town will be the busiest but don’t let that put you off. We’ve visited in August and it never felt too crowded.
In winter Bergerac does get a lot cooler with temperatures dipping to between 1 and 10 degrees.
There is rainfall year round in Bergerac but never so much it would ruin your holiday.
How to get to Bergerac in France
Bergerac is located less than 3 miles from an International airport meaning it’s easy to reach from most parts of the world. I recommend hiring a car so you can explore the whole of the Dordogne.
If you’re including Bergerac in a French road trip holiday it’s around a six hour drive from Paris or just an hour and a half from Bordeaux.
There is a train station in Bergerac should you be exploring France by train. It’s around a 4 hour train journey from Paris. Pop your dates into Trainline for tickets and times.
How to get around Bergerac
Bergerac is definitely a walkable city. Once you arrive just park up and explore on foot. For day trips away from town you’ll need a car.
Parking in Bergerac
There’s plenty of parking in Bergerac. We found lots of space up near the Église Notre Dame de Bergerac. It wasn’t too expensive and looks like it’s free on Sunday. There is also a large carpark near the river – follow the P signs to Riverside.
Where is Bergerac in France?
Bergerac is located in the Aquitaine region in the South West of France. It’s around 75 miles from the busy city of Bordeaux. The area surrounding Bergerac is very rural with sleepy French villages and market towns separated by miles of farmland. The pace of life is slow and relaxed and still feels relatively undiscovered.
Good to know
Shops are closed on Sundays and most will shut their doors between 1pm and 2pm each day.
Evening entertainment tends to revolve around restaurants rather than nightclubs so it’s probably not the best city for party animals.
Read next: Destination guide to France with kids
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