On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in Bergerac and Monbazillac.
We woke up early in the Coir Historique flat and went out looking for a café to have some breakfast. We walked all around the neighbourhood but could not find anything open at that time on a Sunday morning. We found a boulangerie open and we bought some croissants and some coffee to take away and had breakfast in the flat.
We decided to start the visit to Bergerac by following “The steps of Cyrano” tour of the historic centre, but first we went down “Rue Saint Espirit” and to the Ancient Port, “Quai Salvette”. That is where the Tourist Office is and where you can get a map of the town and the tour route. That is also the start of the route of the “Le petit train de Bergerac”. We boarded the little train to learn a bit more about the town’s history and to orientate ourselves in town. The journey takes about 30 minutes and passes alongside the river and through the roads in the city centre; there is an audio guide, in English, explaining the history of the town.
The best thing to do in Bergerac is to explore the old town with its medieval architecture. So, once back at the Quai, we started our walking tour following the red route from “The Steps of Cyrano”. We stopped at “Place de la Mirpe”, which is a very picturesque square, surrounded by beautiful half-timbered houses, and a stone statue of Cyrano de Bergerac in the middle.
Various photos of “Place de la Mirpe”
The heroic character of “Cyrano de Bergerac” from Edmond Rostand’s play of 1897, was inspired by a man called Savinien II de Cyrano, who added “de Bergerac” to his name while serving as a Gascon Musketeer in his youth. Savinien himself became a notorious novelist and playwright in later life.
We passed the Protestant temple with its neo-classical façade and the Notre-Dame du Château Church. The Cloister of the Recollets from the 17th century is behind these buildings. Following on, we passed “Les Consuls” houses (showcasing medieval bourgeois architecture), the “Maison Peyrarede”, the Tobacco Museum, and then reached the Pont de Bergerac. We could have crossed the bridge but decided to continue the red route leading to the Town Hall (“La Maison Doublet”) and then to “Place Pelissiere”. On this square there is another statue of Cyrano de Bergerac, this one in bronze.
We continued in the route and passed “La Petite Mission”, an 18th century house that used to be a seminar, but today is home to the Costi Museum with its exhibitions in bronze and plaster sculptures.
We finished the red route by passing through the “Marché Couvert” and “Rue de la Resistance”, the main shopping area of Bergerac. Our tour finished at “L’Église Notre-Dame”, a neo-gothic design completed in 1865 by Paul Abadie, the same architect that was involved in the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris and designed the Basilica of the Sacré Coer on Montmartre in Paris.
After the tour we took the car and drove to Monbazillac, which is about 15 minutes from Bergerac by car.
Monbazillac is known for its château, “Château de Monbazillac”, its vast vineyards and its famous wines. The whole area is covered by vineyards producing very good quality wine.
Monbazillac village is very small and other than the château, there is not much more to see. There are a few other smaller wine producers and wine tasting houses in the village though, such as “La Maison Vari” and “Maison du Tourisme et du Vin de Monbazillac”.
We decided to go into “La Maison Vari”. We had lunch there and sat in their lovely garden under the shadows of beautiful trees. We had a delicious salad topped with the local cheese and freshly prepared French dressing accompanied with their organic and fresh Bergerac Rosé wine. That was one of the nicest lunches we had in the area — simple, but memorable. Off course, we took the opportunity to buy a few bottles of wine to bring back to the UK.
After lunch we walked to the château. The visit starts with an exhibition where visitors can learn various stages of the wine making process, and the history of the wine making in the area. Very informative and interesting experience. From there the visit continues to the château itself, a 16th century building that is listed as an historical monument. The style is Renaissance and is beautifully set in a higher position overlooking across hectares of vines and Bergerac in the distance. The turrets give an appearance of a fairy tale fable. There are three floors to explore in the castle and rooms have large windows providing light and air to all rooms.
On the grounds of the château there is also the “Aroma Pavilion” for those who want to make wine tasting a real experience. This can be arranged at the start of the visit by choosing the “Monba’licieux” tour ticket. For a bit more money you can taste three different types of wine in the Pavilion.
After the visit to the château, we rested a bit at the picnic tables in the gardens contemplating the beautiful view of the vineyards. On the way out we stopped at the shop where we sampled one of the wines and looked at the merchandise on offer. Once the visit was over, we took the car and drove back to Bergerac.
Back in Bergerac, we parked the car and had another wander around the old town’s medieval streets and stopped at Restaurant L’esplanade, it’s outside tables facing the old port, and the intriguing Daniel Hourdé’s statue “Desillusion Totale”. We thought the statue could be a depiction of Icarus and his melting wax wings, but we were not sure. That’s a nice place to stop for a break and have some refreshments on the outside tables. We rested for a bit before going back to the flat to get ready for dinner at “L’Imparfait” restaurant.
If you want to do a self-guided tour with a lot of freedom and flexibility, you can book this tour that allows you to play a mystery game while touring.
The “L’imperfait” is in a refurbished medieval building in the old town. We sat on a table where we could see the chefs at work in the kitchen via a glazed panel. The food and the service were first class, and we had an amazing dinner and evening to remember.
After dinner we walked back to the flat for a deserved rest after such an active and full day. We would have to leave Bergerac in the morning to our next destination: Perigueaux.
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Bergerac and Monbazillac. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO VISIT IN BERGERAC AND MONBAZILLAC
1 – The steps of Cyrano – ***
2 – Quai Salvette – ***
3 – Le petit train de Bergerac – ***
4 – Place de la Mirpe – ***
5 – Notre-Dame du Château Church – ***
6 – The Cloister of the Ricollets – ***
7 – Les Consuls Houses – ***
8 – Maison Peyrarede – ***
9 – The Tobacco Museum – ***
10 – La Maison Doublet – ***
11 – Place Pelissiere – ***
12 – La Petite Mission – ***
13 – Marché Couvert – ***
14 – L’Église Notre-Dame – ***
15 – Statue “Desillusion Totale” – ***
16 – Château de Monbazillac – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN BERGERAC AND MONBAZILLAC
1 – The Coeur Historique Flat – 1* – £ – *
2 – Le Logis Plantahenêt – 3* – ££
3 – Madeleine Bergerac – 3* – ££
4 – Les Cabanes de Monbazillac – 4* – ££
WHERE TO EAT IN BERGERAC AND MONBAZILLAC
2 – La Maison Vari – Monbazillac – *** – £
3 – L’Imperfait – Bergerac – *** – £££
4 – La Villa Laetitia – ££
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