Top 5 places to visit in Aquitaine for every kind of traveller
Aquitaine; The home of fine wine, rolling waves, medieval castles and prehistoric caves. It’s the traditional region of France nestled in the South-West corner, next to the Atlantic Ocean. It proudly shares a border with Spain and it’s the place to go to discover one of the biggest and most varied regions in the whole of France. If you plan on taking a journey through its diverse landscape, starting at the foothills of the Massif Central and stretching all the way to the Spanish border you’ll soon discover an array of highly beautiful scenery and bustling cities. But even if you only have a short time to enjoy all that Aquitaine has to offer you’ll still discover a side to Metropolitan France you’ll instantly fall in love with. Here are just a few cities you could find yourself exploring on your next trip to Aquitaine…
Aquitaine’s proud capital and home to some of the finest French wine you could imagine. It was once known as a sleepy city, with rolling vineyards as far as the eye could see. But thanks to the Mayor Alain Juppé, who has spent his time in office turning Bordeaux into the exciting and vibrant city it is now known for, by restoring neo-classical paintings, creating a dynamic transport system and pedestrianising boulevards.
Nearly half the city comes under the UNESCO World Heritage list, which is one of the biggest urban sites to be listed. Bordeaux is a place with so much to discover and enjoy. It’s a must for anyone looking to discover the very essence of France.
For anyone with a deep love of military history, Dordogne is for you, with a river that was the setting to some of the bloodiest and most brutal battles in the 100 years’ war, spanning from the 14th century through to the 15th. It’s easy to see its bloodthirsty history by the looming fortresses and military castles you’ll find throughout the city.
But there’s more to this picturesque region, with charming chateaus and cuisine that will melt the heart of even the fussiest foodie, enjoy dishes like confit de canard (duck confit), or indulge your sweet tooth with peanut oil, pralines de Blaye (almond candies). There’s even some of the finest prehistoric art, you can find it in the caverns and rock shelters of the Vézère Valley. Just the thing to discover France’s vast and turbulent past.
This is the perfect setting for a French beach break in Aquitaine and brags of some of the most strikingly beautiful and naturally stunning landscape. There are many small coastal towns and ports for you to explore and it’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of modern day life. Plus, some of the coastal areas have their own micro-climate, so it's warmer than you may expect. But a quiet region doesn't mean it’s lacking in things to do. You could take a boat trip to Fort Boyard and visit the Island that Napoleon himself built. You can get there from any of the main ports e.g. Royan, or La Rochelle.
If you’re looking for a lazy afternoon with exciting sights to discover around every corner, there’s no place quite like Ars-en-Ré, the central village is based around a spacious central square, and the church stands proud, with its trademark spire reaching higher into the air. Plus, history lovers will soon fall in love with La Rochelle and it’s iconic historical centre and sea ports that date back as far as the 14th and 15th century. A visit to Charente-Maritime wouldn’t be complete without a visit to La Ville Blanche (the white city).
This is the ideal resort for those seeking the ideal family escape, or anyone looking to take to the waves to indulge their passion for surfing. It’s more than just another Atlantic Beach, nestled on the north of Bayonne and Biarritz, it’s often referred to as the surfing capital of France and people flock here in the summer to enjoy the lagoon-like waters and sunbathe on white, sandy beaches.
But If you wanted to tear yourself away from the beach, even for a day Hossegor has so much to offer, including intricate architecture, an exciting nightlife with casinos and bars. Plus, the main town offers so much, including golfing and cycling. You could take a trip to Biarritz a resort founded in the 19th century around a small fishing village.
This striking village brings new meaning to the term picturesque, with a towering, regal fortress sitting atop the highest limestone cliff and the rest of the town cascades down a rolling hill below. It’s the perfect place to escape the stresses of modern day life, as this sleepy town is home to some highly relaxing pass times. Imagine bobbing along the sleepy Céou River, or wander around and take in the rustic, traditional architecture. The Chateau de Beynac can be found in this sleepy corner of Aquitaine and you may recognise it from films like the 1998 classic Drew Barrymore film, Ever After. The perfect place for romance and escapism.