The Atlantic coastline

Billing itself as the "other South of France", the Aquitaine has plenty to offer those who visit it. Stretching some 200 km long, the coastline is, and has always been, the dominant physical feature of the region.

Let's start with the pristine beaches: they are the only ones in France where surfing is possible – in fact, that's where the best surfing is available for the whole of Europe! The sand dunes, including the Dune du Pyla, are the highest in Europe. The Bay of Arcachon is home to a beach resort which became popular in the 19th century, and is very crowded and very lively in the summer.

Bordeaux and its wine-growing region

The Bordelais is a 1000 sq km area around the city of Bordeaux and is, along with Burgundy, France's largest wine-producing region (producing some 870 million bottles of red, white and rose wines in 1998). Bordeaux has over 5,000 chateaux (not necessarily royal or palatial residences, but properties where grapes are raised and wine produced). Bordelais offers a quiet retreat, and its flat layout is ideal for golf courses, some of the best in France being located there.

Périgord

Divided into four areas, (each assigned a colour based on its most prominent features), this is one of the country's favorist tourist spots, attracting many European tourists (especially from the UK) some of whom end up buying secondary residences there.

The Périgord Vert (green) has many forests and fields, and lies to the north and northwest. The center, where the capital (Périgueux) is, is made of limestone and got the name of Périgord Blanc (white). The Périgord Pourpre (purple) owes its name to the wine-producing area in the southwest, around the city of Bergerac. And the Périgord Noir (black) is known for its dark forests and many chateaux. It encompasses the Vezere Valley and part of the Dordogne Valley to the south and is home to such world-class sites as the medieval city of Sarlat-La-Caneda and the prehistoric sites around Les Eyzies.

Basque Country

The Pays Basque is a small world of its own. The ancestors of Basques are among the ancient inhabitants of Europe, and their origins are still unknown as are the origins of Euskara, their language, except it was spoken long before the Romans brought Latin to the Iberian Peninsula. The Basque country covers some of the highest mouintains in France, and many natural parks are the ideal place for a hike. It is also in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The coastal town of Biarritz, became famous in the 19th century when Emperor Napoleon III and his

Aquitaine is also home to some beautiful forrests, including the largest one in Europe: the Landes.

Departments:

  • Dordogne
  • Gironde
  • Landes
  • Lot Et Garonne
  • Pyrénées Atlantiques

Main Cities:

  • Bordeaux: Founded by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, and under British control between 1154 to 1453, Bordeaux is a lively, ethnically diverse city with vibrant nightlife, and one of the country's major universities
  • Perigueux: Over 2,000 years old, the capital of the departement of Dordogne has a restored medieval and Renaissance center, which is liveliest during the Wednesday and Saturday Foie Gras markets.
  • Pau: Capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques 'departement' as well as the Béarn region, the city is famed for its mild climate and magnificent views of the Pyrénées mountains.
  • Biarritz: Stylish and expensive beach resort where the surfers and bourgeoisie meet.
  • Bayonne: Cultural and economical capital of the French Basque Country.