The Aquitaine region of France is a wonderfully rich, varied region in the SW of France, renowned as much for its wine and gastronomy as for its spectacular landscapes. Its westerly edge is made up of the Atlantic Ocean and stretches from the mouth of the mighty Gironde River (including the beautiful city of Bordeaux) and includes Europe's longest beach, the Côte d'Argent, which stretches almost uninterrupted for over 60 miles from Arcachon south of Bordeaux down to Biarritz in the south. The beaches of this western coast of France rival any of those on the French Riviera but are less populated. Worth thinking about if you are considering a beach holiday in the South West of France. As well as the wonderful sandy beaches, the Bay of Arcachon South of the city of Bordeaux also includes many small inland freshwater lakes and is a great area for spotting migrating birds and for eating fresh oysters. South of the Bay of Arcachon is the vast pine forest of the Landes and further inland, numerous sleepy sun-kissed villages where time seems to have stood still
The southerly edge of the Aquitaine department on the other hand is made up of the stunning Pyrenees mountains and includes the beautiful cities of Pau, Lourdes and Tarbes.
The city of Bordeaux on the River Garonne (which is 400 metres wide at this point) is an elegant town rich in history – a trading centre since before the Romans, thriving on the wine trade in particular. Make sure you visit the Maison du Vin de Bordeaux during your visit to the City of Bordeaux. With 57 appellations and 280,058 acres of appellation wines, the vineyards of Bordeaux constitute the largest high quality wine producing area in France. This is the headquarters of the Bordeaux Wine Council who will be pleased to give you an introduction to the vineyards and wine trails of the area.
The eastern departments of the Aquitaine region include the well known but beautiful Dordogne department and the towns of Bergerac, Sarlat and Perigueux. Dordogne in particular is well know for its prehistoric caves of which there are literally hundreds. Some are open to the public, allowing you to see amazing prehistoric rock paintings which have been traced back to the last ice age. Visit the underground lake and rock formations at the Grottes de Lacave East of Sarlat or the Gouffres de Proumeyssac or explore by boat the amazing and breathtaking Gouffre de Padirac . The caves at Lascaux (North of Sarlat) have become famous for their incredible prehistoric cave paintings. Directly West of Sarlat are the caves of Les Combarelles, La Mouthe and Font de Gaume which all contain prehistoric drawings. Les Eyzies is home to the National Prehistoric museum (open Weds-Mon) which is situated in a 16th century castle. The area around the town also contains many fine examples of prehistoric paintings.
In the Dordogne, visit Sarlat which is rich in fine medieval and 17th century architecture - wander through the little streets and soak up the atmosphere. Don't forget Perigord, with its celebrated gastronomy, rich history and wealth of chateaux, churches and pretty villages