Gateways to Aquitaine

Pau and Bergerac

It is a decade since low-cost flights from Stansted first put Pau and Bergerac on the map. Since then air links have blossomed to provide access to the deep south and north-east of Aquitaine. But pause before you race off to your gite or villa: each town has something special to offer.

BERGERAC

Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, and his notable nose, has earned not one but two statues in the centre of this lovely town on the right bank of the Dordogne. Besides the statues, much else is on offer in Bergerac, such as exploring the river aboard a gabarre (traditional barge). The tourist office is at 97 rue Neuve d’Argenson (00 33 5 53 57 03 11; bergerac-tourisme.com ). It opens 9.30am-1pm and 2-7pm daily except Sunday (longer hours in July and August).



* Sleep: Of half-a-dozen options in the centre, the Hôtel-Restaurant du Commerce at 36 Place Gambetta (00 33 5 53 27 30 50; hotel-du-commerce24.fr ) is good value: a double costs as little as €42, with breakfast a further €8 per person.

* Eat: The town centre has plenty of appetising options, with the Restaurant Le St-Jacques at 30 rue St-James (00 33 5 53 23 38 08; lesaintjacques.info) plumb in the middle and one of the most intriguing; the name celebrates the pilgrimage to Santiago, and the proprietors – who are Dutch – made a gastronomic crusade of their own to this land of plenty. They use classic Aquitaine ingredients to create dishes with flamboyant twists such as fois gras on a bed of port jelly.

* Visit: Start in the 17th-century Cloitre des Recollets, a former Franciscan friary where religion has given way to the worship of wine: the Maison des Vins is housed here, and celebrates the district’s distinctive varieties (00 33 5 53 63 57 57; vins-bergerac.fr ). It offers tastings daily except Sunday. Another vice is catered for: Bergerac is a leading producer of tobacco, and the Musée de Tabac at the handsome 17th-century Maison Peyrarède in Place du Feu (00 33 5 53 63 04 13; bergerac-tourisme.com ) celebrates its diamond jubilee this year. In the past 60 years, social attitudes to smoking have changed dramatically, but this museum presents a fascinating anthropological timeline of tobacco.

* Shop: The covered market in the town centre is a lively source of fresh fare each weekday morning; it is augmented on Tuesdays with an organic produce market – and, on the first Sunday morning of the month, a flea market that infuses the old town.

PAU

When in Pau head straight to the Boulevard des Pyrénées for superb views of the mountain chain. Pau’s location and balmy climate attracted wealthy British tourists in the 19th century, and their legacy can be seen in the city’s wealth of parks and gardens. The most interesting building, is the much-transformed château where Pau’s most famous son was born. Henry IV, “the Good King”, reigned over France from 1589 to 1610 and is credited with inventing the dish for which the city is renowned: poule au pot. The main tourist office (00 33 5 59 27 27 08; pau-pyrenees.com ) on Place Royale is open from 9am-6pm daily (Sundays 9.30am-1pm)

* Sleep: The central, two-star Hôtel Bosquet at 11 rue Valéry Meunier (00 33 5 59 11 50 11; brithotel.fr ) has doubles from €67, with breakfast an extra €7 per person. For four-star luxury and great views try the Hôtel Parc Beaumont at 1 avenue Édouard VII (00 33 5 59 11 84 00; hotel-parc-beaumont.com ), which has doubles from €215 with breakfast an extra €22 per person. Or consider the Hotel Villa Navarre, a handsome property in extensive grounds at 59 avenue Trespoey (00 33 5 59 14 65 65; villanavarre.fr ) – which includes arguably the best-located open-air swimming pool in France, with superb views of the mountains.

* Eat: A popular, central brasserie, Le Berry at 4 rue Gachet (00 33 5 59 27 42 95) accepts no bookings so arrive early. The magret de canard is particularly good.

* Visit: The Musée des Beaux Arts (pictured) in rue Mathieu Lalanne (00 33 5 59 27 33 02; musee.ville-pau.fr ) boasts work by Rubens and Degas. It opens 10am-noon and 2-6pm daily except Tuesday, €3. The Château Museum (00 33 5 59 82 38 02; musee-chateau-pau.fr ) opens 9.30am-12.30am and 1.30-6.45pm from 15 June to 15 September, €5. The grounds and gardens are free and open from 7.30am daily.

* Shop: Explore the streets behind the Place Clémenceau. Find Pau’s famous sweets, chocolates and other presents in streets such as rue Henry IV and rue du Maréchal Joffre. In the latter, at number 48, Francis Miot creates award-winning and saucily-named sweets. The Tétons de la Reine Margot are delicious: €8.90 for 150g (00 33 5 59 27 69 51; boutique-feeriegourmande.com )

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape