Apart from relaxing at the pool, on your terrace or inside with your own music. Apart from preparing and savoring a great lunch or dinner with some local wine. Apart from taking a stroll through the grounds picking some cherries, blackberries, apples, hazelnuts, walnuts or getting some fresh vegetables from the garden (or helping me in the garden), there are many more things to do.
Cycling: The cycling here is great. The surroundings are beautiful and the roads are quiet. You can choose for slope routes (go right) or more hilly routes (go left). There are also some mountain bike tracks and we have some very detailed maps available. Helmets are obligatory in France.
Walking: Again some good walks are laid out starting from different villages, like Sainte Sabine itself, but also Beaumont and Monpazier.
Markets: I love them for their fresh local vegetables, great sausages, roasted chicken, fresh goat’s cheese, etc. The best market is on Sunday morning in Issigeac. It even has oysters (12 for €7!!) and you have an oyster knife in your kitchen and I can give a quick course on how to open them. This market has a great atmosphere with wine tastings and only friendly, mostly local, people selling their products. In summer try getting there before 10.00h because it gets extremely busy.
Tuesday morning in Beaumont
Wednesday morning in Villereal (only in summer) and Bergerac
Thursday morning in Lalinde, Monpazier and Monflanquin
Saturday morning in Villereal and Bergerac
In season Monpazier has the biggest porcini market in the Dordogne. The season however is variable. It all depends on the weather: a little rain and then lots of sun make them appear.
Wine tastings: Of course with the great Bordeaux area as its neighbour Bergerac disappears a little as a wine area. Yet it has the same grape varieties and lots of great wines. There is so much to discover wine wise. And the wine makers are still very willing to have you taste the wines. I would strongly advise to visit Saint Emilion, since it is a beautiful village, but the wines are expensive and the people too used to selling to tourists. So for wine tasting and buying our neighbourhood is very interesting. Many winemakers are now producing organic wines, which I find a very positive development.
Village parties: They are great. We hadn’t visited them over the years when we came here for our holidays. Now we’ve found out about them, we don’t want to miss any of them. All kinds of local bands play, some really good and always performed with great joy. Superb atmosphere with everybody being involved and doing some kind of volunteer work. During our Sainte Sabine village lunches the Mayor a.o. serves the food. Also going to the Hippodrome in Villereal when there is horse trotting going on is an event not to be missed.
Then of course you can visit all the lovely bastides, the great castles but above all the many artists in the area. It is surprising how many artists live, work and sell in this area, and some really good ones as well. Again lots to discover.
Restaurants: It is amazing but half a mile from your doorstep, in Sainte Sabine Born, there is a very affordable one Michelin star Restaurant, called Etincelles. It is not a very traditional one. It is relaxed and friendly and you do not have to dress up. It is a bit like visiting friends when you arrive there. They do interesting food and have a very good wine list. In summer you have to book weeks in advance though, since it is very small and popular. La Brucelière in Issigeac, is another favourite. It is more creative than your average French restaurant. Again friendly and they have a good wine list as well. But again: book in time. In Villereal our favourite among cheap and cheerful is Les Marronniers. Good pizzas, pastas, salads and meat dishes and extremely friendly…. and a big terrace. Le Moderne has great meat dishes from their own animals. They are friendly but not always very attentive. They have a big terrace but unfortunately 2 televisions are always on, inside. Another favourite restaurant of ours is Bassivière, near to Villereal, we like the food and atmosphere and we go there often. And then back in our own village Chez Edith. Again friendly, good size terrace with swimming pool, cheap and cheerful with some nice wines.
And then our old time favourite, the restaurant we always return to; Chateau Les Merles. It has a creative kitchen, great young staff, speaking lots of languages, a nice, very local, wine list, a superb terrace and a great fire place inside. Absolutely worth the half hour drive. Before we created our own place we always stayed here.