Nérac is a charming town of around 8 000 people, located just over an hour south-east of Bordeaux and about 90 minutes north-west of Toulouse.
It may not be the most well-known of tourist destinations, however we think it’s a bit of a hidden gem! It’s a great foodie destination (as per Michael Ruhlman’s fabulous article in Condé Nast Traveler) and some local specialties are Armagnac, Buzet wines, foie gras and the chocolate shop that inspired the book/film Chocolat to name but a few reasons it should be on every food enthusiast’s “must visit” list!
Nérac itself has everything you could need even if you don’t have a car – apart from (what we think is) the best Saturday market in the region, there are two big waterparks closeby and the gorgeous Parc de la Garenne – where you can walk, ride bikes or have a picnic along the river. You can rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboats or take a leisurely cruise on the river Baïse close to the house. Nérac hosts an animated (and delicious!) local summer night market (always a good time) which is located is about 2 blocks from the house.
Nérac is easy to get to by train from Paris, or a quick drive by car from Bordeaux or Toulouse. It’s also a convenient “home base” location for trips to Bergerac, Bordeaux, the coast and even Spain is just a couple of hours away. Further afield, the Mediterranean south of France is easily reached by car (or train).
THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND NÉRAC
Nérac weekly market
The weekly market in Nérac is on a Saturday morning until around 1pm, from the place du Général de Gaulle right up the Cours Romas.
Other closeby weekly markets:
- Barbaste – Monday and Friday morning
- Lavardac – Wednesday morning
A helpful site for planning when to visit each market is Jours de Marché.
Agen Covered Market
Place Jean Baptiste Durand,
Open: Tuesday – Saturday 7am – 1pm, 4pm – 7.30pm
Sunday 7am – 1pm
Chocolaterie Artisanale La Cigale
(the store that inspired Joanne Harris’ book “Chocolat”)
2 Rue Calvin,
Tel: 05 53 65 15 73
Open 9am – 12pm, 2pm – 6pm but best to call or wander by for hours as we have found they change often.
Château Musée Henri IV
4 Place du Général Leclerc,
Open April – end of September: 10am – 6pm
October – end of March : 2pm – 6pm
Closed in December and January, 1st weekend in May, 3rd Monday in September
Adults 4€, reduced tariff 3€, children under 12 free
Free entry on the 1st Wednesday of every month (except July and August).
Guided tour Sundays 3pm (April, May, June and September)
Guided tour Monday – Friday 11am and 3pm (July and August) and 3pm and 4.30pm Saturdays and Sundays
Les Croisières du Prince Henry
Quai de la Baïse
Guided tours on the Baïse, boat rental (no permit required), lunch cruises
April – end of October
Boat cruise: 10am, 11am, 3pm, 4.30pm, 5.30pm (7€80)
Lunch cruise: 12.30pm (33€)
Parc Royal de la Garenne
Classified as an historical site in 1909, the park is opposite the gardens and the Bains du Roy. It was created in the sixteenth century by Joan of Albret and Antoine de Bourbon, expanded by Queen Margot, first wife of Henri IV. A favorite place for the Néracais’ weekend stroll. There’s also a small café-restaurant.
Lud’ O Parc
Open every day from 10.30am – 7.30pm, (9.30pm on Wednesdays)
A range of different tariffs offered: http://www.ludoparc.eu/horaires-tarifs/
Located just 20 minutes from Agen check out Lud’O for a day of swimming and leisure in the heart of South West! Close to the center of Nerac, and open from July to September, you’ll find a range of recreational and leisure pools amongst Roman relics!
WHERE TO EAT IN AND AROUND NÉRAC*
*a dynamic, evolving list (as we work our way through them!)
L’Art de Vivre
7 Rue du Château,
Tel: 05 53 65 69 43
Probably the “finest” dining in the actual town. Offering a seasonal menu with beautifully presented and offer good value at lunch (3 courses for 14€) and dinner (25€ for 3 set courses or 32€ for 3 courses you can choose from the menu). Open from Wednesday midday to Sunday night (inclusive) this is a “must” when visiting or staying in Nérac.
Restaurants outside Nérac
L’Auberge le Prieuré
Tel: 05 53 47 59 55
Boasting one Michelin star, they offer a “Menu du Marché” at lunch for 27€ – some might think that is a bit of a splurge for lunch but the food and experience are well worth it (and, plus – Michelin star!!!). Sit outside under the shady trees in the courtyard – so peaceful (surrounded by the quaint Medieval buildings) and enjoy a leisurely-paced lunch. For an extra few euros you can get a glass of wine with your meal and a coffee afterwards. All the food is beautifully prepared – they use what’s seasonal and really make the ingredients shine.
2 Rue du Lac,
Tel: 05 62 68 13 22
Boasting a Michelin “Bib Gourmand”, this place is anything but stuffy. We arrived sans réservation for lunch one day but were immediately shown to a table by the chef. I think the friendly nature of the place is due to the fact that this is a family-run place – in 1968 Chef Bernard Ramouneda joined his grandmother Angèle in the kitchen she created in 1935 and in 2013, he was joined by his son, Baptiste. Baptiste and Bernard were very present in the dining room and chatted with what were obviously regular customers as we all enjoyed our 13€ 3-course meal (now 14€). Yes, you read that right – beautifully presented and exceptional Michelin-quality food for a fraction of the price you’d pay at dinner. Though their dinner menus are reasonably priced as well – 29€, 33€ and 48€ is still under what you would pay in a larger city. Highly recommended.
La Table des Cordeliers
1 Rue des Cordeliers,
Tel: 05 62 68 43 82
The main dining room is in a 13th century chapel and it is absolutely stunning but the Côté Bistrot – a smaller room (and definitely not as pretty but still very charming and cozy) with a different type of menu – is a little more accessible in price. Their 22€ lunch is an absolute bargain – three wonderful courses at either lunch or dinner. Fantastic value and gorgeous setting (the Côté Bistrot seats you outside in the summer months on a lovely terrace). A must visit in the region.
Le Moulin des Saveurs
4 Rue du Moulin des Tours,
Tel: 05 53 97 06 60
Situated across from a 13th century fortified mill, the restaurant is both cozy and refined, serving modern interpretations of typical Gascon dishes. Part of the restaurant is set in the old wine cellar so it is lovely and cozy in the winter but can be a little dark in warmer months. It’s a bonus when it’s 40˚C outside though… Other tables are at street level and offer a brighter location. Excellent value at lunch (17€ for 3 courses) with a nice selection of wines by the glass too.