Beautiful Issigeac, dating back to the 13th century is a medieval gem and one of the most beautiful villages in Dordogne. It’s a gorgeous place to wander through at any time, but truly comes to life on Sunday – Issigeac market is known as one of the best in all of France!
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Issigeac (pronounced Issy-Jack) is located approximately 15 minutes from the town of Bergerac in the South East part of the Dordogne region in South-West France. This area of Dordogne is also known as the Périgord Pourpre (Purple Perigord – a reference to the local vineyards.)
Issigeac was built in the middle ages with buildings from the 13th-18th century, but it was also a gallo-Roman villa during the 4th century and a monastery in the 6th century. A Benedictine abbey was established in the 12th century.
Today it’s a beautifully preserved medieval village, with small shops, boutiques, wine shops selling the local speciality Monbazillac wine and restaurants servicing locals and tourists. The highlight of the week is when the town comes alive on Sunday mornings with the weekly Issigeac Market.
Issigeac Walking Tour
One of the best things to do in Issigeac is to take a self-directed walking tour around the village to soak in the history and atmosphere.
You can grab a free informative leaflet (available in English) which outlines the top attractions in the village from the office de tourisme Issigeac (tourist office), but here are some of the main highlights to take in:
The Bishop's Castle
This landmark building in Issigeac was constructed in 1660 by Francois II de Salignac on huge medieval fortifications. It is known as the Palais des Eveques de Sarlat – The Bishop’s Castle – and was home to the Bishops of Sarlat at the time when the papal palace was based in Avignon in Provence.
Today it houses the office de tourisme (tourism office) inside the old arched cellars. It’s well worth popping into the tourism office as they have a wealth of information on things to do and see in the Dordogne region – much of it available in English.
From time to time art exhibitions are also housed inside The Bishop’s Castle.
The House Known As The Tithe
This is a 17th century building with a large imposing frame and roof. Only the first floor is medieval with its gothic arched opening. A new Issigeac restaurant “Auberge Les Dimes” has recently opened at the entrance to the building.
Timber Framed Buildings
The streets of Issigeac are lined with amazing half-timbered framed buildings made from a combination of stone and wood.
They’re made from wooden verticals (sabliéres), horizontals (poteaux) and angles (obliques). The houses were originally put together on the ground and the spaces created were then packed with straw, stones and bricks.
The House of Heads
A famous landmark in Issigeac is the ‘Maison des Têtes’ – House of Heads. If you look up when wandering through the main street, you’ll come across the grotesquely grinning wooden heads which are carved into the lattice work on the third story.
The house was thought to be constructed in the 15th to early 16th century.
The Rue d l'Oustal
The Rue d l’Oustal is thought to be a street that was once home to many craftspeople of Issigeac.
The small houses comprise ground floors made of stone which housed the workshop, and half-timbered upper floors that were home to the family.
The Mushroom House
If you look carefully at the Mushroom House, you’ll notice the interesting mushroom like shape!
The wooden corbelling on either side of the building was shaped this way to allow horses and carts to pass through underneath.
The lower floor of the Mushroom House houses a lovely art gallery, and opposite is an artisan potter and additional art gallery – well worth a look if you are wanting to take home a unique treasure from the town.
Visit the Church of Saint Félicien
The beautiful Church of Saint Félicien is the dominant building of Issigeac.
It was commissioned by Armand de Gontaut-Biron, the bishop of Sarlat in the 15th century. The church is a representation of late Gothic architecture and the octagonal bell-house can be seen throughout the whole village.
Inside there are several statues from the 17th century and beautiful stained glass windows.
Concerts often take place throughout the year in the church, providing a wonderful ambience.
Issigeac’s market – held rain or shine throughout the year every Sunday – is one of the most popular markets in the Dordogne region. It’s so well known that it is often a finalist in the annual French “Votre plus beau marché” (Your most beautiful market) competition.
In the height of summer over 200 stallholders take over the village, showcasing the best of the region’s local produce. You’ll find incredible farm-fresh produce, cheeses, bread and pastries, duck products (foie gras, confit du canard and every other part of a duck!), salami, olives, rotisserie chicken, walnut products (another local speciality) giant vats of paella and stew.
Beautiful basketware is on show at the entrance to the market, and there are many stalls selling wine from the region including the sought after Monbazillac dessert wine, local Bergerac red, white and rose wine.
You’ll also find a variety of clothing stalls, artisan soaps, beautiful handmade quilts and jewellery.
There’s even live music during the summer months which adds a lovely ambience to the atmosphere.
Top tip: The market can get extremely crowded in the height of summer, so it’s worth arriving early to find a parking spot, get your pick of the produce and escape before the crowds get too busy – just as the locals do! Stalls are normally up and operating by 8am and the crowds tend to arrive en-masse around 10am.
The market is quieter during winter, but still most definitely worth a visit. During the darker months it’s the one time of the week when locals come to town to meet up and catch up on the latest news.
There’s a lovely festive atmosphere on market day, and it’s worth taking time to stop at one of the many restaurants in Issigeac after your shopping for a delicious lunch, glass of wine or a coffee. You’ll definitely need to book during summer if you’re planning on a long lazy lunch.
Marché nocturne / Night markets
From late June until early September it’s marché nocturne (night market) season, and it’s definitely a must-do.
In the early evening large trestle tables and chairs are set up and food vendors begin cooking – the air fills with the most amazing smells!
The idea is to bring your own cutlery, plate and glasses (especially now disposable items are banned in France for environmental reasons), then purchase what you’d like to eat. You then find yourself a spot at the communal table and enjoy! Often there is live music as entertainment.
The food is generally a showcase of the region – you’ll find delicious chèvre (goats cheese) salads, confit du canard (duck), foie gras is sometimes on offer, escargot, mouth-watering crepes with toppings of lemon and sugar or nutella, and there’s generally always chips and a burger!
There’s always a couple of local wine producers who attend the markets selling bottles of wine that are generally reasonably priced. Don’t forget to bring your corkscrew!
The main night market takes place in the main square of Issigeac in front of the church on Thursday evenings around 6.30-7pm, There is also a wonderful bio marché nocturne Issigeac (organic night market) that’s a bit smaller on Friday evenings that showcases local organic produce.
Top tip: Be like a local and bring along your own tablecloth to lay across your spot on the communal tables – you’ll notice that’s the done thing!
One of the best things about Issigeac is the incredible restaurants.
For such a small village, there’s a wide variety of different places to eat – whether it be a small snack, coffee, ice-cream or a full three course menu. Here’s some information about the best restaurants Issigeac.
La Brucelière Issigeac
Our favourite restaurant in Issigeac, restaurant La Brucelière is situated in a fabulous old stone building in Place de la Capelle with a beautiful outdoor courtyard that’s used for dining in the summer months.
The foot is absolutely superb, and there’s either a la carte or set menu/menu du jour options to choose from. Kids are catered for too with a menu enfant option.
The menu showcases fresh, seasonal produce from the region and it’s an absolute delight.
In a lovely local twist, the dishes are served using local pottery from the ‘Atelier de Poterie’ that sits beside the Mushroom House on Place Bari Paliou.
La Brucelière is popular with good reason so you’ll need to book in advance in the summer months, particularly on Sundays after the market. It also operates as a chambre d hote Issigeac with a number of charming double rooms available.
Restaurant L'Atelier Issigeac
Restaurant L’Atelier is the other atmospheric restaurant in Issigeac that comes a close second in our opinion. Also situated in an atmospheric stone building with a wonderful summer courtyard (or a table beside a roaring fire in winter), L’Atelier offers delicious seasonal food from the local region.
The chef is the son of the owner of another well-regarded Issigeac restaurant l’Ancienne Gare (now closed).
Again this restaurant is extremely popular in the summer months, so you’ll need to book.
Shabby Chic Corner
The cutest little cafe hidden away in a side street (3 rue Ernest Esclangon), Shabby Chic Corner is a French tearoom that’s absolutely delightful.
As the name implies, it’s Shabby Chic style and serves lots of varieties of tea, coffee, cakes, scones, salads, sandwiches and quiche. Well worth a visit.
Le Bouchon Medieval
Previously a SPAR supermarket, Le Bouchon Medieval is new to the Issigeac dining scene and is conveniently located in the main street Grand Rue.
It’s a great place to pop in for a coffee, wine or cocktail, or enjoy one of the many offerings on the menu.
Situated opposite Le Bouchon Medieval is Couture d’ameublement, an absolutely stunning shop selling furniture, home linens and decorations, as well as specialising in upholstery.
But it’s out in their sunny back courtyard looking over the rooftops of Issigeac where you can relax with a tea, coffee or juice and sample one of the lovely cakes on offer.
Auberge Les Dimes
The newest restaurant in Issigeac, Auberge Les Dimes sits at the front of the village in the House Known As The Tithe.
It’s been restored back to its former glory and home to a mix of French regional and Brazilian cuisine. It’s the only place in Issigeac where you can enjoy a caipirinha in the sun!
La Casa del Seyrat
The only pizzeria Issigeac, La Casa del Seyrat is a casual restaurant specialising in pizza, pasta and Italian food.
They also do takeaway if you prefer to pick up and take it back to enjoy at your holiday gite Issigeac.
Events in Issigeac
Throughout the year there’s plenty to see and do in Issigeac with lots of events taking place. Here’s a list of some of the most notable and fun ones that are a must attend:
Marche aux Fleur / The Flower Market – May
The town comes alive full of beautiful blooms to welcome spring.
Foire aux Paniers Basket Festival – third Sunday in July
Over 40 basket weavers from all over France come to showcase their work in this annual fair, the second largest in France. Stunning handmade baskets are available to purchase.
Brocante Issigeac – first weekend in August
If you’re wanting to find a bargain and love a good treasure hunt then be sure to head to Issigeac in the first weekend of August for the annual brocante fair /antique and flea market. Over 70 stall holders line the streets with their fascinating wares!
Medieval weekend – August
A fun weekend where locals dress in medieval clothing and a medieval feast is held in the town, along with themed arts and crafts for sale.
Foire aux Potirons / Pumpkin Fair – October
A large autumn/fall festival held in the streets of Issigeac, with fun competitions like the largest pumpkin and delicious pumpkin soup on offer.
Christmas Market / Craft Exhibition – November to January
Local artisans set up in the Salles du Château with Christmas craft on sale including books, baskets, pottery, jewellery, sweets and much more.
Best Places To Stay in Issigeac
There are a number of other wonderful gites, B&B and hotel accommodation in the area.
Our favourite gites to stay at in Issigeac is at the wonderful Domaine de Pémontier. You’ll find two gites which are beautifully converted and restored traditional barn and old pigeon house in keeping with the architecture of the region.
How To Get To Issigeac
Issigeac is located a short 15 minute drive from Bergerac airport which has several direct flights to many UK airports, as well as Belgium.
Issigeac is approximately 1.5 hours from Bordeaux to the East, 2.5 hours from Toulouse to the South, 2.5 hours from Limoges to the North. It’s around a 6-7 hour drive South from Paris.
There’s no direct train service to Issigeac. The closest train stations is at Bergerac, with services to Bordeaux, Paris, Libourne and Sarlat.
Places To Visit Near Issigeac
There are a number of beautiful villages and town within short proximity of Issigeac.
The small villages of Faux, Monpazier, Villereal, Eymet, Lalinde, Limeuil, Tremolat, Le Bugue, Sarlat-le-Caneda are easy day trips and each have their own charm and stunning architecture.
Further north of Issigeac you’ll find the lovely town of Périgueux with its amazing market, and Brantôme, nicknamed the Venice of Périgord.