Saturday, June 11, 2011

Aquitaine - Visit France

Within easy reach of United Kingdom, France’s third-biggest region in terms of surface is the perfect getaway to south-west France and its 250 km of sculptural coastline… The mild oceanic climate allows for gently cool winters and agreeably warm summers bathing an extraordinary rich heritage and giving  wine  its exquisite flavours…

5 reasons to visit Aquitaine

>The Incredible Coast Line
250 km of carefully safeguarded coast offering the finest extensive sandy beaches and some of the best surfing spots and contests in the world!

>An Outstanding Heritage
From the pre-historical remains of the Vézère Valley and the Lascaux cave paintings, listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO, Aquitaine may very well be one of the cradles of humanity… For a taste of the French Basque country head south to Bayonne, Biarritz, or Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

>Wine Country
Stretching over 145,000 hectares of vines, Aquitaine is the largest region of fine wines in the world.
 Boasting some of the greatest designation in the world such as Médoc, St Emilion, Pomerol and Sauternes, the region also offers plenty of less-known wines to satisfy every palate.

>The Great Outdoors
For taste of the great outdoors Aquitaine has it all! The region is home to the Pyrenees national park, the largest pine forest in Europe (the Landes of Gascony), and the great estuaries of the Gironde were the mouths of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers meet…

>Gourmet delights
Aquitaine is a dream region for food lovers… Local specialty such as foie gras, oysters from the Bay of Arcachon, aspargus from Landes, Tomme cheese from the Pyrenees, or chilli Espelette peppers, have to be sampled to get a real taste of Aquitaine.   

Cordouan Lighthouse
Phare de CordouanOne of the very few lighthouses to be listed as a historic monument, and the last lighthouse in the sea still to have a keeper, this 68-metre giant keeps watch over sailors 7 kilometres off the Gironde Estuary.
The elder statesman of European lighthouses, it was built in 1584, but watchtowers had been in this place since the Middle Ages.
From the King’s apartment to the lantern room and Notre-Dame chapel, you can visit this “Versailles of the Sea” with its 311 steps.
Sailings from Le Verdon, at the northernmost point of the Médoc.

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It is a condensed version of the history of France that you can find in the city's streets and museums, from the remains of the Palais Gallien, a Gallo-Roman amphitheatre, to the very contemporary exhibitions of the CAPC. Bordeaux
The 18th-century façades along the quaysides and the architecture in general in the large city centre offer exceptional sights to admire on walks.
On 28 June 2007, the UNESCO committee accepted (among other things) the Bordeaux candidature and included the city on its World Heritage list. The listed zone covers the area inside the inner ring-road, up to the Garonne River inclusive. It stretches over 1,810 hectares, or almost half the surface area of the city.
The gateway to a wine region bearing the world’s most prestigious names, Bordeaux offers all the delights of a city - museums, restaurants, shopping, bars, operas… - with the beach and the mountains just down the road…

Its monolithic church is a medieval jewel in the crown of a town listed as World Heritage by UNESCO.

The Dune du Pyla and the Bay of Arcachon
There is the sea of course, because Aquitaine has 250 kilometres of Atlantic coastline. In the northern half of this huge beach there is a natural curiosity, the Bay of Arcachon. This bay forms an interior sea of 1500 hectares, the shores of which are dotted with seaside resorts and oyster-fishing ports.
Dune du Pyla
Just a short bike ride away, there is another giant. Not made of stone like the lighthouse but instead made of sand: the Dune du Pyla. Standing 104 metres high, it is Europe’s tallest dune.
If you climb it – a task made easier by the steps – you will be rewarded by an unobstructed view over the ocean and the Bay on one side, and the Landes forest on the other.

The “cabanes tchanquées" and Bird Island
Cabannes tchanquées
These shacks on stilts out at sea and the bird reserve are sites really worth a visit in the Bay of Arcachon, as are Arguin Sandbank, Cap Ferret and the Leyre Delta.

Château de Bonaguil
Le château de BonaguilIn Lot-et-Garonne, Bonaguil is a fortified castle built in the 13th century and constantly improved up to the 18th century and the Vauban fortifications.
Listed as a historic monument since 1861, it is one of the “major sites” in Aquitaine.
Remarkably well preserved with imposing proportions and traces of the entire history of military techniques, this castle is an essential visit in the region.

One of the finest fortified towns in Périgord, listed as “One of France’s Loveliest Villages”.

La Roque-Gageac
Listed as “One of France’s Loveliest Villages”, set between the Dordogne River and the cliff face. As you face the river you can see several castles at the same time.
Roque Gageac

Sarlat and Périgueux
If, after climbing the Dune du Pyla, you feel like climbing some more, you can go up the steps of the ramparts surrounding the medieval town and take a look at the sights.

SarlatCinema festival, music festival, truffle market… Sarlat and Périgueux, with its Saint-Front Cathedral, offer all the charms of Perigord, combining tradition and dynamism.
And the prehistoric sites of the Valley of Humanity, like the grottoes of Lascaux or the Vézere Valley, are only 10 kilometres away.

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