The Wines of Bergerac, Duras, Marmande and Buzet
By Paul Strang
This Guide was last updated on 28 July 2011
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Bergerac is thriving: its local light industries jostle with the traditional businesses of wine growing, the diminishing tobacco trade and the canning and preserving of local foie gras and other pâtés and fruits. Most of the interest is in the old town, a small area leading down a sloping terrace of land towards the Dordogne and the old port. The summer season attracts crowds to the many small restaurants specializing in the local wines and foods.
On the main road south to Marmande, this is a small bastide (walled) town in the valley of the Dropt (pronounced Drow as in Grow). It is much beloved by Anglophones who have set up quite a colony here. The centre is built round an arcaded square where there are shops and cafés. Plum-growing (mostly for conversion to prunes) is almost as important hereabouts as viticulture.
The château and its former ducal owners have a colourful history. During the Revolution orders came from Paris to dismantle the towers, but the locals were denied payment for their work so the only half the job was done, as can be seen to this day. The old town has a nice square, and the Duras wine cooperative is just at the foot of the hill in the Dropt valley.
A winemaking centre 24km downstream the Dordogne from Bergerac. Another bastide (walled town) with a central square and arcaded shops with the characteristic grid pattern of the medieval towns. There are some good renaissance and 17th century buildings, and the banks of the river provide quiet walks in contrast to the busy town centre. Good jumping off point for visiting the Montravel vineyards.
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