Pays du Dropt is a small tourist region located in the north of the departement. It takes its name from the Dropt River, which crosses it and separates Agenais from the Périgord. Pays de Dropt is full of lovely villages, beautiful bastides, castles, churches and mills, hills and small fertile valleys, vines and vineyards…
Duras is an important commune in the Pays du Dropt, famous for its elegant castles, proudly dominating the Dropt Valley and its vineyards. These are small and unassuming but of a great quality.
Today, if this region appears calm and serene with its little valleys, churches, Roman priories and vineyards, it was not always the case during its history. The region of Duras, once heavily forested and cleared by the monks of Conques and Sarlat during the 10th century, had torn allegiances, for a long time, between the English and the French during the famous One Hundred Years War. Duras castle suffered the destructive consequences of the war. It was destroyed and plundered by Du Guesclin.
It was rebuilt and destroyed again during the French Revolution. The castle as it stands today, evokes memories of its tumultuous history. Visit the old brick ice-house, the Archaeological Museum, the prison, the “Frigate loft”, the room of secrets (or the Whispering Gallery), and surprisingly, the room of ghosts and great historical characters. Finally, from the castle, there is a remarkable panorama of the landscape, especially from the top of the lookout tower.
During your visit to the North of Duras, there is the neighbouring Purple Périgord region. You can see many small villages and abbeys in a very hilly landscape: Soumensac, Loubès Bernac…
Leaving Duras and travelling along the charming Dropt Valley, stop in Allemans du Dropt, a superb and well-maintained town. Places of interest: the beautiful 15th century church murals, the small streets, and a remarkable wooden market hall, plus a beautiful bridge over the Dropt.
After your visit to Allemans du Dropt, stop at Miramont de Guyenne, a former bastide and a lively shopping town today.
Heading north, on the border with the Périgord, there is the beautiful village of Lauzun which boasts a castle. Travelling eastwards is the 13th century Bastide of Castillonnès, built like many others by Alphonse de Poitiers. It has the typical bastide layout - a central square with cornières (arched openings), lovely small streets and beautiful mansions, a 14th century gate, fortifications, ruins…
Another remarkable Bastide in Pays du Dropt is Villeréal. It was built by Alphonse de Poitiers in 1267. Villeréal has an outstanding, perfectly preserved wooden covered market, an impressive fortified church, lovely streets to stroll along, such as rue Saint Roch. Villereal is a large agricultural town. The bastide is very lively in summer, attracting many visitors, like the whole region. British tourists are attracted by the charm of the region.
Auriane’s best tip: Free wine tasting is available when you visit the castle; white, red and rosé for the adults and grape juice for the little ones. This is an area with a long history to discover plus enjoy tasting the products of the region. Read Auriane’s article.
Since 1305 the wines of Duras, AOC* (Appellation d’origine Contrôlée) were already being appreciated by Pope Clément V, the first Pope of Avignon, this shows how old this wine is. The 'Côte of Duras' produces high quality white wines, rosés and reds on around only 2,000 hectares. It is a rare wine, which the inhabitants of Duras like to remind the visitor, that you can taste at the “Maison des Vins de Duras”, go to the castle and follow the signs for Allemans du Dropt.
* The Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC; "protected designation of origin") is the French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters and other agricultural products, all under the auspices of the government bureau (Institut National de l’origine et de la qualite).