The Aquitaine region of France
Aquitaine is a region in south-west France, along the Atlantic ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the Spanish border. It contains the wine producing basin of Bordeaux and the Garonne. Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine, is three hundred and fifty miles southwest of Paris. One of the best known cities in France, its fine wines are appreciated all over the world. Bordeaux has an excellent road and rail network as well as a major airport.
Aquitaine contains some beautiful beaches. A hundred and eighty six miles of fine sands stretch from Soulac-sur-Mer to Arcachon and from Biscarosse to Hossegor. Supervised beaches are indicated by a flag, some areas can be dangerous to swim and are best avoided. If you have a desire o feel truly free, there are a number of naturist centers along the Aquitaine coast, for example at Vendays-Montalivet. Beaches along the Landes and Basque coastline attract surfers from all over the world. Sand yachting is popular on the Côte d'Argent, and sailing is possible in numerous areas.
For fishing enthusiasts the Fédération Française des Pêcheurs en Mer organises various kinds of expeditions in the summer months. You can even go deep-sea fishing for shark and tuna. Sea kayaks are ideal for exploring the coastline. If you prefer canoeing or kayaking on a river, a trip down the Leyre river in the Landes to the Gironde estuary offers a magnificent day out. Forest shelters are available at the twelve bases along the river, or you can take a tent.
Climbing the Dune du Pilat, the highest dune in Europe, is a popular hike on the Aquitaine coast. A wooden stairway makes it easier to climb. The Dune also has a famous paragliding spot.
Cycling is very popular in the Gironde region, with its numerous marked trails. An alternative is horse riding, which allows for exploration of areas less accessible by road. Golfers are spoiled as some of the finest golf courses in France are on the Aquitaine coast.
For the history buffs Aquitaine offers an abundance of prehistoric sites and a fascinating variety of artefacts. The famous archaeological finds at Lascaux and elsewhere, the abbeys, fortresses, and châteaux, and the Roman remains will delight those interested in architecture and archaeology.
Bordeaux is a wine-growing region of worldwide reputation producing Margaux, Medoc, Sauterne, and Saint-Emilion wines. There are numerous gastronomic specialities in the region – Gironde is the home of the cannelé, a cake with subtle flavours of rum and vanilla, on the Lège-Cap-Ferret you can sample a fresh oysters with a dash of lemon and a glass of white wine. Landes foie gras is also a great favourite. Gascon pork is also renowned. The oldest French brandy Armagnac is produced from demarcated vineyards according to traditional methods. The Domaine de Boingnères at Labastide-d'Armagnac makes one of the finest and most traditional Armagnacs.
Aquitaine has it all – from lazy days on the beach, historical monuments and a variety of sporting activities, all followed by wondrous food and wines, there’s something to suit every taste.