1st Monday of May, Snail Festival (Bertric Burée)
Nearly 100,000 snails are cooked in huge vats and devoured by locals and visitors from all over France. An all day event, in traditional French style, which involves the consumption of lots of white wine and a huge evening feast. Great fun day for the whole family as they normally host a brocante (equivalent of a car boot sales), fun fair, bar and market where they serve food including snails, beef or confit de canard (duck) and lots of wine. Great fun and always on the first Monday in May.
2nd Sunday of May, Strawberry Festival (Beaulieu)
The main event is the baking of a giant strawberry pie, but it is accompanied by a market with regional produce and French and international music and dance performances. The medieval, cobbled streets, a splendid Romanesque abbey, and the Chapel of the Penitents offer a magnificent setting for these strawberries! Entertainment for the whole family; horse riding, wooden exhibition, face painting, wooden games, various workshops (cooking, arts and crafts), parade and races, nature sports events (canoes, making kites, fishing simulator), plus street entertainment and magicians.
Pentecost Sunday, Rocamadour AOC Cheese Festival (Rocamadour)
This festival of Rocamadour AOC cheese is celebrated on Pentecost Sunday each year. There is a competition for the best farmhouse cheese, cheese tasting, traditional music, face painting and feasting. A chance to shop at a wonderful cheese market as well being able to taste all the wares. From the Rocamadour AOP throughout the 25 past editions of the event, they have given us a tour of French cheese gastronomy; and what diversity! Cow, goat, sheep, known and less known.
Mid July, Fete de la Madeleine (Duras)
This is a three day festival in Duras, which traditionally celebrates Baroque music. There is local camping in the château grounds, BBQs each evening, as well as a fireworks display. A rough guideline for the programme is below but is always subject to change. Saturday: Grilled sandwiches and concert with the group Sangria, entry is free. Sunday: Grilled sandwiches and concert (free admission). Monday: Grilled sandwiches and concert with Mickaël Vigneau and Collective Métissé. Closing the three-day festival with fireworks.
Late September, Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (Rocamadour)
A hot air balloon fiesta in Rocamadour in late September. This gathering of European hot air balloons forms a stunning sight against the backdrop of the pilgrimage town of Rocamadour. Attracting some 20,000 spectators, it pays to get your viewing spot early.
Suggested General Activities
- Market - enjoy a trip to market in a town close to your villa and buy fine meats, olives, oils, wines and cheeses of the region.
- Private Art Class - try your hand at landscape painting as a professional artist teaches you the fundamentals in your own villa for a half or full day. Alternatively, painting activities can be arranged for children in Bergerac whilst they tour the town
- Boat trip - why not take an organised boat trip up the river to see the town of Bergerac and the nearby countryside from a different perspective
- Shopping - take a day for a shopping tour through Bordeaux where you find Rue Sainte-Catherine, the longest shopping street in Europe
- Wine tour - enjoy an educational day with an emminent wine writer and professor in the Dordogne - take a full day excursion to St Emilion, Pommerol or the Medoc with lunch, mini train trip through the vineyards and private tasting of selected vignoble
- Wine lesson - enjoy a day as a guest of an emminent wine writer and professor in his own home - your day would include a class introducing the vine and its properties, the wine making process, tasting and a five course lunch with selected wine
- Enjoy a truffle tour hosted by the owner of a local truffle farm
Suggested Sporting Activities
- Cycling - France provides wide, empty roads and flat or rolling countryside suitable for biking
- Boules - this typical French game can be played nearly everywhere; many towns provide dirt, gravel, hard-packed sand squares as playing surface for Boules
- Mountain Biking - rent a bike (in Limoges for example) and discover the beautiful countryside
- Golf - enjoy a round of golf at one of the many courses in the region
- Swimming - Beach at Dune de Pilat near Bordeaux, Limoges has an Olympic size pool
- Climbing - find a wall in Limoges
- Tennis - in Limoges, 50 tennis courts
- Sailing - rent a yacht in Bordeaux
- Kite-surfing - go with the wind in Bordeaux
- Windsurfing - about 6 excellent windsurfing schools with rental facilities for equipment
- Horse riding - enjoy the scenery of the Dordogne from horseback. Sessions can be booked to suit a range of ages and abilities
- Canoeing - spend a day canoeing down the Dordogne, a great family activity which can be enjoyed at a leisurely pace and include a lunch stop
Selection of Local Attractions
- Bergerac, Maison des Vins (Wine Rooms)
- Bergerac, The Costi Museum - Open from July to August, rest of the year on demand
- Bergerarc, Chateau de Monbazillac - Open from March to October
- Bergerac, Velines/ Sardy Gardens - Open from Easter to 1st November
- Bordeaux, Palais Gallien - June to September
- Bordeaux, Saint-André Cathedral - Open all year round
- Bordeaux, Casa de Goya - Open all year round
- Bordeaux, Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux - Open all year round
- Périgueux ,Cathedral of St Front - Open all year round
- Périgueux, Amphitheatre - Open all year round
- Périgueux, Musée de Vésunna - Closed in January
- Limoges, Le Jardin Botanique de l'Evêché - Open all year round
- Limoges, Le Grand Théâtre de Limoges - Different program all year round
- Pau, The Musée National des Parachutistes - Open all year round
- Pau, La Cité des Abeilles (bee city) - Open all year round (from Nov to Feb only Saturdays and Sundays)
GMT + 1 hour
The official currency is the Euro (€). Coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50, cent , €1 & €2 denominations. Notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500 denominations.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted for exchange or purchase in major cities, but in more rural areas, visit a bank to exchange them for Euros. Major credit cards are widely accepted here (though a limited number of merchants have American Express accounts) and ATM access is widespread. Exchange currency only at authorized outlets such as banks and hotels, and exchange only what you think you will spend in-country. Coins cannot be reconverted on departure. Save all receipts from any currency exchange transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
Tips in restaurants are usually added on at 10/15 % of the bill. However, it is often a subject of controversy whether this amount actually goes to the waiter or not, therefore it is your choice whether to tip more.
Arrival & Departure Formalities
Travel documents are your responsibility. In general you should have:
- A signed, valid passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. Your passport must have enough blank pages (excluding amendment pages) available for entry and exit stamps issued when entering and exiting immigration points.
- Visas are required for certain nationalities and you are strongly advised to check your status allowing plenty of time for visa application.
The South West is in a temperate zone that is far enough in the north to experience all four seasons. The region has pleasant and warm spring weather. There are hot summers with an average temperature around 30°C. Daylight in the summer averages between 8 and 9 hours. Autumn in the South West is also pleasant, with warm daytime temperatures and cool evenings. The days can be quite short during the winter months, with an average number of sunlight hours between 2 and 3 in December and January and temperatures below the freezing mark.
It is advisable to contact your doctor before you travel if you have any specific health concerns and take out appropriate travel and medical insurance.
Electrical service in France is supplied at 220-240 volts/50 hertz.
- Traffic from the RIGHT has right of way, except at roundabouts or if their road has a white line across it.
- You should always be carrying in the car your Passport or national ID, driver's licence, the car insurance papers and ownership (rental) papers.
- An international driving licence is not required. Your locally issued driving licence, as long as it is accompanied by your passport, will suffice.
- National speed limit is 50kmh (31mph) in towns, 90kmh (56mph) on secondary non-urban highways, 110kmh (68mph) on dual carriageways, 130kmh (80mph) on motorways (autoroute). Speeding fines: 30 - 300 Euros. Minimum driving age is 18.
- For use of the motorways (autoroute) it is invariably necessary to pay a toll before access. Payment can be made by coins or by credit card.
- There are strict laws concerning drinking and driving. Blood alcohol levels must not exceed 0.05%. There are random breathalyser tests carried out regularly by the police.