La Matha

local towns

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a beautiful city about one hour away from La Matha, and well worth a visit. There is a very effective Park and Tram (the photo shows one of their futuristic trams), which will take you right into the centre.

Loads of shops - some high class and expensive, some normal (H&M etc), cafés, restaurants etc. There are many wine shops,but it may be better to go to les degustations in the local areas, rather than in the centre of Bordeaux, where prices may well be higher

In terms of sport, Bordeaux is home to Les Girondines or les Bleus, a frequent visitor to European football competitions. For Rugby, Union Bordeaux Bègles have been in the top tier for a few years.

Garden

The closest main town to La Matha is Ste Foy-la-Grande, about 10km north-east. Ste Foy is a beautiful town, nestled on the banks of the Dordogne. It is a Bastide town from the 11th century, and there are still many medieval buildings in the centre of the town. The old town with its relaxing walks on the banks of the river has several excellent restaurants.

St Foy is well known for its Saturday market that fills the streets of the centre of town, which is officially recognised as one of the best in France. To appreciate the sounds and smells of a fabulous market that seems to sell everything you can think of, spend an hour or two, stroll around the streets, and head for the market square for a coffee, beer or lunch and watch the world go by!

Living Room

St Emilion is now regarded as one of the top wine-producing districts in France and is less than 40km from La Matha. St Emilion is a small pretty town of medieval appearance, built on a hill. Almost every square foot of soil as far as the eye can see is covered with neatly trained vines.

The little town is a major tourist centre, so be prepared for crowds. There is car parking both at the foot of the town, and at the top, out of sight of people on foot most of the time.

Its attractions include a wide choice of restaurants, wine merchants, art and craft galleries, an ancient underground church built into the cliff below the very top of the town, and an old fortified tower.

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Bergerac is the second largest town in the Dordogne, second only to Perigueux. As the centre of a major wine-producing area, with a river port with access to the sea via Bordeaux, Bergerac was formerly the most important town in the region. Now it is a busy market town.

The region around Bergerac makes a range of wines including Monbazillac, the famous desert wine. Most of the vineyards lie on the flood plain of the River Dordogne and on the slopes of the low rolling hills to the north and south. From Bergerac, "gabarres" or river barges carried the wine to Bordeaux. Today the gabarres carry tourists up and down the river. There are many galleries, restaurants and museums in the "old town", which is very compact, and is packed with medieval buildings.

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Duras is a small market town about 13 km due south of La Matha. The centre of the wine region Côtes de Duras, it is home to a day time market every Monday, and an evening market on Fridays in the Summer.

Perched on a hill in a commanding position over the surrounding vinyards, the town has a fine Chateau, which was built in 1137 and even though it was lived in, it was originally more of a fort. In the 16th century it was slowly converted into a more comfortable residential castle. It is open to the public from March to September.

In the town there are a couple of good restaurants - La Terrasse is a favourite, and Don Camillo is also very good. There are also a few bars in the centre; we have spent many warm afternoons sipping a glass of chilled wine outside a bar over-looking the chateau!

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The town of Castillon is built on the site of the last battle of the Hundred Year's War between France and England in 1453. Situated on the northern bank of the river Dordogne, it is about 20 minutes drive from La Matha. Whilst it is of historical significance, there are not many historic buildings in the town. There is a pleasant church in the centre, and a good range of shops, banks, bars etc.

For wine, there are a large number of Caves and Chateaux around the town. English visitors who know Laithwaites will be interested to know that their French base, Le Chai au Quai, is in the town.

Most years there are battle re-enactments each weekend in the summer.