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 !
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 !
The landing dock has seen pass gabarres for a long time
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).
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).
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.
A guide is important to understand what you are seeing
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.