It’s true that in Dordogne in November it can be rainy and cold. A lot of restaurants and bars take a well-earned break after a long summer and before the Christmas season kicks off. So, with not a lot open, not a lot else to do but some promising blue skies, last weekend I headed off for a stroll around the historic part of Bergerac.

The narrow, cobbled streets of Bergerac that rise steeply from the quay around the Maison des Vins are bursting with history and ambiance of bygone days. Bergerac always used to be an important trading hub and in the 19th century, the port was at bursting point. I’m a great one for stopping and just trying to imagine scenes; the hustle and bustle when the gabarres came into port to unload or load construction materials, wine, wood for barrel making, heating and stakes. All helped along by my partner’s rather amusing impersonation of a prostitute from the 1800s hanging around a seedy, dimly lit alleyway!

Cloître des Récollets

La Maison des Vins sits at the heart of the port in Bergerac. Here you can learn everything you need to know about the wines of Bergerac and Duras. To the back of the building is the entrance to the Cloître des Récollets and I was pleasantly surprised to find it open as the last time I went, it was closed. The Cloître des Récollets is an impressive courtyard oozing with an interesting past that goes back to the middle of the sixteenth century. I’ll let you read the panel that describes what it is all about.

Cyrano de Bergerac

Walking up a little further towards the centre of town, the statue of the famed swordsman and French poet, Cyrano de Bergerac stands proud. I’m glad to see they captured his famous big nose! But I’m sorry, when the name is mentioned, I can’t think of anyone else other than Gerard Depardieu.

New covered market

A little further still into the centre, I wanted to see how the renovation of the covered market was coming along. Well, it is coming a long and looks good but didn’t look like it was going to be anywhere near ready for opening on the 29 November and its inauguration on the 2 December. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished result. Covered markets are integral part of French life and a great meeting spot.

Bergerac was quiet that day and I expected that in November. But sometimes it’s good to wander around a town when it’s quiet. You don’t have to concentrate on dodging crowds and you see so much more.