The Perigord Pourpre
The Perigord Pourpre is situated in the south west corner of the Dordogne. This part of the Dordogne is renowned for its wine growing. Miles and miles of vine planted hills stretch out across the Perigord Pourpre.
There is more to the Perigord Pourpre than wine
At the heart of the Perigord Pourpre is Bergerac, the second largest city in the Dordogne department. For centuries, Bergerac has been the most important commercial centre in the Dordogne. (There is evidence of wine production around Bergerac stretching back to Roman times.
Bergerac lies on the Dordogne River and this was the secret to its success. Bergerac was an important port back in the 12th century as it acted as a controlling point for the wine trade between Bordeaux and growers in more remote areas.
Boats called “Gabarre” were constructed from the oak forests higher up the river and were used to carry goods to Bergerac and Bordeaux. The boats were then broken up to be used for wine maturation barrels. These days, Gabarres can still be found on the river at La Roque Gageac a few miles from Milandes. You can take advantage of a trip on a boat to see the magnificent chateaux along the river.
Bergerac is still home to late-medieval houses. Visitors to the city will also find a host of cafes and restaurants, a museum dedicated to tobacco (Musée du tabac) and a former monastery that now houses an information centre.
The city really comes alive during July and August. Visit Bergerac during these peak summer months and alongside the regular markets you could also enjoy free music concerts, wine and food festivals and a battle re-enactment (or two!).
However, there is far more to the Perigord Pourpre than Bergerac. The outlying areas of the Perigord Pourpre are home to stately chateaux, bastide towns and plenty of natural heritage. There are numerous fortifications built before and during the Hundred Years’ War that are well worth a visit. The bastide town of Beaumont (in the south of the Perigord Pourpre) was founded by Edward I back in 1272. Two large, imposing towers still stand at its entrance. The pretty, Place Centrale is the main focus of the town. Here, you will find seven of the original arcades. Regular markets still take place in the south of the town.
Near the north east tip of the Perigord Pourpre the Dordogne River ‘kinks’ and this gigantic meander can be seen in all its glory from the limestone cliffs around Trémolat. Head east from here and, where the Dordogne and the Vézère rivers meet, you will find Limeuil. It’s another village packed with character. Wander around the medieval streets and enjoy a picnic in the park. There is also a pebble beach and it is a great place for a spot of canoeing.
South of the Dordogne River, between Trémolat and Limeuil, is Cussac. This place hit the headlines in 2000 when a cave containing engravings dating back around 30,000 years old was stumbled upon. However, lessons have been learned since the discovery at Lascaux and the cave at Cussac is not open to the public. (There are tentative plans to follow Lascaux and create a replica version.)
We’ll finish this blog on the Perigord Pourpre with a mention of a place that can be visited. Head towards Eymet in the south and you will come across the small village of Allemans-du-Dropt. It lies on the banks of the Dropt river. The Church of Saint Eutrope (an unremarkable looking building from the outside) is the highlight. Venture inside and you will see 15th century frescoes adorning the walls. These frescoes, which have been largely restored, depict various episodes from the bible and end with a pretty graphic view of hell.
That aside, you should find a visit to the Perigord Pourpre a heavenly experience!