Bourg: Perched Atop A Quiet Secret in Dordogne

After exploring Bordeaux, Cadillac, Blaye, Bourg, Libourne, and Saint Émilion, my next port is at tiny historic Bourg. 

Bourg, France, is a hidden gem on the right bank of the Dordogne River, nestled in the heart of the wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg, in southwest France. In the 16th century, Bourg was a fortified community that secured a prominent position at the confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers.  In medieval times this tiny hamlet was invaded by Visigoths, ravaged by the Normans, fortified by the English, and hosted more royalty than anyone ever expected, having been visited by four kings. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
Nowadays, Bourg sits discreetly among three prominent UNESCO Heritage sites:  Blaye, Saint Émilion, and Bordeaux. This tiny ancient village once named Bourg-sur-Gironde, built in Roman times, tells a tumultuous 2000-year-old history. 

In times of conflict, such as war or political upheavals, Bourg continually protected the region for more than three centuries.  There is scant history recorded about demure Bourg, but in recent history, Bourg is highly praised for its strategic and vital waterways - offering shelter and protection in desperate times of war and conflict.

Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina

The fairytale-esque upper village of Bourg crowning atop the King’s Stairway - winds 500 steps upward from Port de Mer.  Bourg sits majestically above the Dordogne River standing straight and tall within the chateau walls at the once Citadel of Bourg. Where today you will receive a warm welcome and breath-taking view for visitors from around the world to enjoy.

Inside the Chateau de Citadelle of Bourg, today named Musée des Caléches, you’ll find a large exhibit of horse-drawn carriages from royal times. The locale hosts classical concerts and cultural events by the Bourg Arts et Vins Association.  Every autumn, a medieval fair is celebrated in the Chateaux French Garden and grounds.   The museum is open for guided tours, including the 16th century underground passageways that lead from the riverbanks up to the fortress, originally built to transfer goods up from the lower harbor, using horse drawn sleds.

overlook at Bourg
Photogenic Bourg reveals pure Romanesque beauty in 18th-century houses, golden Bourg stone facades, and decorative iron balconies for all to admire.  Bourg is an enchanting village with medieval streets and curlicue alleyways that tumble straight down to the water’s edge – where at sunset the limestone facades are awash in rich hues of gold. Currently, the port plays host to regattas, festivals, and the annual salt fair, Foire Troque Sel, commemorating Bourg’s valuable commodity from the Middle Ages.

The lower town by the harbor once was a flurry of activity, where barges transported goods along the river and out to the Atlantic Ocean.  The harbor was once loaded with regional goods for trade or sale:  barrels of wine, salt, and honey-colored stones, quarried from nearby caves, used to build the historic buildings of Bordeaux.

Today the harbor side of Bourg has expanded for the increased tourism and the wine renaissance taking place in the Bordeaux region, adding deep-water moorings and new docking platforms. Bourg plans to welcome larger cruise ships and European river ships - all with easy access to Bordeaux. Most river cruises offer scheduled port stops in sweet hamlets and villages for wine tours, tasting, and visits to world-renowned vineyards, along the Garonne, Dordogne, and Gironde rivers in southwest France.

Even though Bourg may seem off the beaten path in the Aquitaine region, it is worth a visit to fully enjoy the rich and stunning countryside, abundant wineries, historical chateaux, and picture-postcard villages, along with the wines of the Côtes de Bourg appellation.

images from archives

October 19-October 30, 2023
*2016 & 2023 travels

J. Christina is the author and owner of Scribbles and Smiles. Through our blog, we share stories of the wonderful discoveries we have made on our European travels. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie.  Hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.  Christie is traveling solo on this adventure, 2023.

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