The "Gabarres" of Bergerac : An unusual tour on the Dordogne river

You may be discovering Bergerac for the first or for the umpteenth time... but what about roaming on the Dordogne River, on a “gabarre(traditional flat-bottomed boat used for the transportation of goods) ? Along the way, you can learn about the environment and the natural ecosystem of the Dordogne River which is one of the cleanest and verdant rivers in France ! Get closer to Cyrano’s land but from the river with the Gabarres de Bergerac !



Gabarres in Bergerac ?


The Gabarres of Bergerac are not here by accident. The Quai de la Salvette has seen many gabarres before they were used as pleasure crafts. Before being an unusual and pleasant tourist means of transportation, the gabarre was an old and traditional boat, used for the transportation of goods on the rivers. The inland waterways in Bergerac are equally old, and wine, stone, artillery and paper have been circulating on gabarres from the Gallo-Roman period. The particularity of these boats is best observed from under the water : the flat bottom of the gabarre called the « sole », allows the boats to navigate the river even when the water is shallow and the deck is well loaded !

Gabarres de Bergerac embarcadère

The landing dock has seen pass gabarres for a long time

Gabarres de Bergerac promenade sur la Dordogne

Let’s go !

It is why during summer, even if the water levels of the river are low, the Gabarres of Bergerac can navigate without any problem. When you arrive on the Quai de la Salvette (easy to park for free in the off season in the surrounding area, if not there are many car parks nearby). Notice the gabarre which is moored in the middle of the river near a large water jet ? It is a genuine gabarre ! Today, we navigate on reproductions that meet tourist access and safety standards (gabarre tours are disable access).

Gabarre ancienne sur la Dordogne

A genuine ancient traditional gabarre

The Gabarres of Bergerac is a friendly family business. You will be welcomed like I have been by either Mr Larequie, his son or his daughter, who remain at your disposal with their team of guides and attentive gabarriers (shipmasters). Bergeracois since for ever, they know their job, the region and this area of Dordogne, answering all your questions about history, the fauna or the landscapes during the tour (50 minutes from Bergerac, with the possibility of half a day, check their website).


Immediate boarding with the Gabarres de Bergerac


From Bergerac or from the Creysse Harbour (as shown in the video above), a guide is here to accompany you and help you appreciate the richness of the surrounding landscape. Because, let’s be honest, during this tour you will not see any castles : this is not that type of tour. The circuits from Bergerac help you discover the fauna and traditional flora of the region. The Canadian geese, the grey heron, the kingfishers (be alert as they are quick !), ducks and other birds and obviously the fish are the true stars of these circuits. You navigate peacefully on the Dordogne River and its natural riversides are an invitation to relaxation, patience and careful observation.

Les Gabarres de Bergerac

Gabarres, few canoes, some fishermen and that’s all !

Les Gabarres de Bergerac promenade détente au bord de l'eau

Relaxing in the fresh air, an enjoying the landscape
Les Gabarres de Bergerac souvenir

Take the time to observe what hides on the water edges

Get a glimpse of these beautiful local stone buildings, houses and charming villages and mills. They are in an untouched and little frequented woody area which is the delight of the “pêcheurs à pied(fishermen on foot gathering seafood by hand) or on their small barks. Discover the “cluzeaux” : they are very common shelters in the region (but rare on the riverside!) dug in the porous and crumbling limestone rock. They were used as makeshift shelters in case of attack or for hiding.
Vieux moulin sur la Dordogne Les Gabarres de Bergerac
Beautiful houses and fishing ramps
Les Gabarres de Bergerac Guide

A guide is important to understand what you are seeing

Les Gabarres de Bergerac Barrage et ascenseur à poissons

The weir and its fish passage

You can also see caves, water run offs coming from groundwater which resurfaces (the resurgences) and gushes into the river. While doing the Creysse tour, you arrive right at the end of the 7 locks, the EDF dam and its fish passage, passing by a charming bridge.
Les Gabarres de Bergerac résurgence d'eau

The water resurgences
Les Gabarres de Bergerac Les cluzeaux sur la Dordogne
Spot the “Cluzeaux” and nature of the very pourous and limestone stones

No stone castles to suggest, but… wine-making chateaus, before the end of your tour, during the summer, a chance to taste Bergerac Duras wine is offered. An interesting introduction following the discovery of this top wine making region !

Les Gabarres de Bergerac Dégustation de vins

Bergerac Duras wine tasting

Les Gabarres de Bergerac Vins de Bergerac Duras

Further information

Les écrevisses de la Dordogne
The shrimps of the Dordogne River


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