Aquitaine is a beautiful region in the South West of France and is one of France’s best kept secrets. Located along the Spanish border and the Atlantic coastline, the region is split into three departments, Arcachon to the north, Mimizan in the centre and Pyrenees Atlantiques in the south.
The region is a fabulous holiday destination offering something for everyone, from families to couples, adventurers and retirees.
With long warm summers, miles of fabulous uncrowded beaches and lots of things to do, it’s a place all visitors fall in love with and come back to. If you need any further convincing, here are 6 great reasons to make your next holiday in France in the region of Aquitaine
Aquitaine is easily accessible. It’s possible to drive there from the Western Channel ports in a day. Brittany ferries and DFDS run regular ferry services from Poole, Plymouth and Portsmouth in the UK to Cherbourg, Caen, Roscoff, St Malo and Le Havre in France.
It is also possible to travel by train, with express connections from Paris-Montparnasse and Paris-Austerlitz stations to Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and a regular service from London to Bordeaux (via Paris). If you are travelling by train it is advisable to hire a car on arrival as this is the best way to get around once you are there.
British Airways, easyJet, Flybe, Ryanair and Jet2 all fly to Aquitaine (Bordeaux) directly from the UK. There are in fact 5 airports in the region, including Bergerac and Biarritz.
2: Gourmet food and fabulous wine
Aquitaine is one of the richest agricultural areas in France and is renowned for its cuisine. There’s a huge choice of fresh food in the many markets if you are on a self-catering holiday, or choose from many restaurants and cafes serving delicious local dishes.
You’ll see a lot of duck and goose on menus, and plums and walnuts are grown liberally here, so expect to see them in both sweet and savoury dishes. You must try Landes Pastis while you are here (a divine apple tart and one of the region’s most popular dishes).
It goes without saying that the region produces some wonderful cheeses, such as Ossau-Iraty. Aquitaine is also a wine lover’s paradise. The region produces more than 30 per cent of French wine production. It’s also where the fabulous Grand Cru Saint-Émilion comes from. Regional cheese with a regional wine and a hunk of French crusty bread is mandatory when you holiday in France and it couldn’t get any better than here!
Find out more about the cuisine of Aquitaine here.
Aquitaine is renowned for its pleasant climate all year round, and especially for its warm summer months. The climate is temperate so also gets significant rainfall. However, in the summer (June to August) the temperature is pleasantly warm and can even get very hot.
4: Brilliant selection of accommodation
There is a huge selection of holiday accommodation in Aquitaine, from expensive hotels to self-catering holiday homes and villas, and cheaper camping options.
Aquitaine is home to some great seaside towns, such as Biarritz, Arachon, Cap Ferret, Hossegor and Ile de Ré. The region has the longest stretch of coastline in Europe. Halfway between the great sand dune of Pyla and the resort of Hossegor you will find the finest sandy beaches in France.
6: Things to do
There are so many wonderful sights to see and things to do in Aquitaine. The area is rich in culture, has some wonderful chateaus, vineyards and fantastic beaches. Here are just a handful of the great attractions in the region:
- Bordeaux – the regional capital of Aquitaine is a magnificent city with a rich history. Must-sees are the eighteenth-century theatre, the splendid square Place de la Bourse, the impressive Cité du Vin museum, Chateau Trompette, the Pey Berland bell tower (great views). And, shop to your hearts content at Europe’s longest shopping street, Rue Saint Catherine.
- Dordogne – the most popular places to visit in the Dordogne area are the medieval town of Sarlat, the Lascaux Caves, the castles of the Dordogne valley between Le Buillon and Aillac, and the historic city of Perigueux.
- Dune du Pilat – situated at the entrance to Arcachon Bay is Europe’s tallest sand dune. Climb the 154 wooden steps to the top for amazing views.
- Surfing at Biarritz or St Jean de Luz.
- Beautiful beach resorts, such as Arcachon, Lacanau and Moliets-et-Maa.