A taste of traditional France

IMG_0190Spending the Easter break in France is a very popular choice for British travellers. With a variety of transport links departing regularly from across the UK, France is easily accessible and can be a cheap and simple option for those wanting a few days away. France has a lot to offer; the open countryside is ideal for camping holidays, the cities provide great cultural breaks, and there is a range of privately owned gîtes and farmhouses available to rent in classic French villages. The climate of southern France is changeable in March and April; it can go from cold and rainy one day to warm and sunny the next, whereas further into the summer months the conditions are more stable.

P1010108The village of Fonroque is home to approximately 250 people and is situated 15 minutes from Bergerac in the Dordogne region in southern France. It has few amenities, but these do include a boulangerie (for the essentials – chocolate croissants!) epícerie and a small bar. The town of Eymet is approximately 5 minutes away, and this has further facilities such as restaurants, shops and a supermarket.  Fonroque itself has a few privately owned properties to rent, as well as a campsite on the outskirts. We stayed in a traditional farmhouse; this had four ensuite bedrooms, a large living and kitchen area, and a veranda looking out over the village. It also had a garden, BBQ area, sauna, and swimming pool for the summer months, so really encompassed everything you’d want from a property.

The town of Eymet is an interesting place to visit. Despite an obvious French influence in its architecture and layout, it has a predominantly British feel due UK expatriates counting for a third of the town’s population. This doesn’t detract from the town as it still retains its French charm, and is miles apart from the usual perception of expat communities. Eymet’s central feature is the water fountain in the town square, with bars and restaurants arranged around it. The river runs parallel to this, and there is a small park which is ideal for people watching. Over Easter weekend, French towns adhere to limited opening times and this can give places a ghostly feel, as some shops close for long lunch hours and others don’t open at all. This can be quite frustrating if you have a limited time in each place, but at the same time it’s good to see that France hasn’t completely given in to a consumerist culture. We cycled to Eymet from Fonroque one afternoon and spent a few hours sitting outside a bar in the sun, sampling one of the twelve local wines given a protected AOC status.

P1010106Bergerac is the second biggest town in the region and is known for its wine production; much of the surrounding land is dedicated to viticulture and many of the local population are employed in the industry. The town is spilt by the Dordogne River, and there is a variety of shops, restaurants and bars to choose from. Bergerac also holds a weekly market popular with visitors; stalls vary from floristry and local produce, to books, clothes and jewellery. As well as this, there are shops catering for the tourist trade, with foie gras, wine and tobacco all being popular souvenir products due to being produced locally.

This area of France is perfect for a relaxing break due to the endless countryside and the friendly attitude of the local people. The area generally caters to every requirement, with the city of Bordeaux nearby if you want a change of pace.

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