Safari tents near Bergerac

Medieval charms, vineyards, and riverside camping at the gateway to the Dordogne.

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Safari tents near Bergerac guide

Overview

Few regions are as quintessentially French as the Dordogne (or the Périgord, as it’s known to locals), set around the Dordogne River and peppered with medieval villages, caves, and châteaux. Bergerac, at the heart of the Dordogne’s wine-growing region, doesn’t disappoint, with its tangle of cobblestone lanes, half-timbered houses, and traditional barges plying the river. Take to the water to boat, paddle, or fish, then escape into the vineyards to hike, cycle, and go wine tasting. Campers have a choice of options from simple aires (motorhome parks) and municipal campsites to cosy cabins, glampsites, or holiday parks with full amenities and a swimming pool.

Where to go

Perigord Pourpre

The southwest area of the Dordogne is known as the Périgord Pourpre (Purple Périgord), so-called for its beloved red wines. Bergerac is the obvious basecamp for exploring, so set out to discover the family-run wineries, enjoy leisurely bike rides through the vineyards, or go truffle-hunting in the woods. Don’t miss the lively market towns of Sainte Foy la Grande and Issigeac, or the bastide towns of Eymet and Monpazier.

Perigord Noir

East of Bergerac, the Perigord Noir (Black Perigord) is named for the dark oak forests that flank the Dordogne River, affording miles of hiking, biking, and canoeing trails. Regional highlights include the medieval Old Town and markets of Sarlat-la-Canéda, the prehistoric Lascaux Caves near Montignac, and the hilltop Chateau de Castelnaud.

Dordogne Valley

East of Bergerac, the Dordogne River twists through forested cliffs and impossibly pretty medieval villages that appear tailor-made for lingering road trips, slow river cruises, and country camping. Hit the road in your campervan or caravan, and explore the cliff-top citadel of Rocamadour, the medieval lanes of Carennac, or the flowery riverbanks of Loubressac.

When to go

Summer, especially July and August, is peak season in Bergerac, and Dordogne campsites can book up quickly. To avoid the crowds and the high-season prices, the shoulder seasons of May-June or Sept-Oct provide the best weather for outdoor activities. Winter campers can make the most of the local truffle harvest (Dec-Feb), but be aware that many campsites open only from April through October.

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