Here are our top 10 reasons to visit the fabulous region of Aquitaine!
1. The accessibility
Aquitaine is easily accessible within a day or two’s drive from the Western Channel ports. Brittany Ferries offer a range of daily sailings from Poole, Plymouth and Portsmouth into Cherbourg, Caen, Roscoff, St Malo and Le Havre in France or alternatively why not travel into the port of Bilbao or Santander and start your journey to Aquitaine by travelling through northern Spain. This means you can choose the routes and timings that work best for you and cut down on your driving time which is ideal if you are travelling with children and don’t want to spend a long time in the car. Travelling by ferry is also great for stocking up on French produce as there are no luggage restrictions!
2. Gourmet food
Aquitaine is renowned for its foie gras and there are many popular “marchés au Foie Gras” to visit in the region that will give you the chance to learn different local recipes from the producers themselves. Perigord Truffles, or Black Winter Truffles are another speciality grown here and are considered to be the most desirable variety of truffles in France. Perigord Black Truffles are known as a luxury product, sometimes called “black diamonds” and especially are appreciated by foodies so be sure to give them a try during your stay!
Aquitaine is home to the wonderful city of Bordeaux which is world renowned for its wine. Bordeaux is most famous for its red wine and the varieties produced here include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec to name but a few! There are many vineyards that offer tours and tastings, visit the Bordeaux ‘Maison de Vins’ for information on estates that are open to the public to sample classics as St Emilion, Graves, Medoc and Margaux.
4. Dune du Pilat and Arcachon Bay
The Dune du Pilat is the highest sand dune in Europe and is over 100m tall! The 2,700m long sand mountain is a favourite with sand-boarders and paragliders, and attracts a million visitors a year. You can climb to the top using steps or the wall of sand for fantastic views over the Atlantic Ocean and Arcachon Bay with its oyster ports, sandy beaches and pine forests. There are 220km of cycling paths around the bay and the area is perfect for bird watching, boat trips and oyster tasting.
Aquitaine is renowned for its good weather which usually lasts long in to the autumn months, with an average temperature of 18.5 degrees reported in October and over 2,200 hours of sunshine a year. This means that even if you are planning an out of season break to Aquitaine you can still benefit from good weather and a pleasant climate.
6. Route of Richard the Lionheart
When English King Richard the Lionheart, who inherited his lands in Aquitaine from his mother Eleanor, set off on a crusade with the French King Philippe-Auguste, regional overlords took the opportunity to strengthen their defences against his return. Today, this sign-posted ‘route’ travels through unspoilt countryside in the Dordogne and marks his various travels and battles between these fortified castles and towns. Richard the Lionheart was shot by an arrow in Chalus and died in 1199 and parts of the original castle still stand today next to the ruins of the church where his remains are said to be buried.
7. Lascaux Caves
In a small village in the department of Dordogne you will find the Lascaux Caves, a UNESCO world heritage site filled with pre-historic animal paintings dating back almost 20,000 years. The original paintings can no longer be visited in order to protect them, although you can now visit “Lascaux II” which contains an exact replica of the original caves, made with identical tools and pigments.
8. Beautiful gardens
Due to its pleasant climate, there are some fabulous gardens in Aquitaine that can be visited all year round. Two of the best known gardens to visit in the region are Eyrignac and Maqueyssac. At Eyrignac you will find 10 hectares of sculpted plants and some of the finest examples of Topiary Art in France. The gardens at Maqueyssac are designed for enjoying walks in, with all paths leading to the Belvedere, a fabulous balcony 192 meters high and 130 meters above the river, which showcases exceptional panoramic views of the Dordogne valley.
Aquitaine is home to some of France’s most stunning lakes and rivers making it the perfect place to try a variety of watersports. Beginners will enjoy canoeing on the Dordogne River past many beautiful towns and pretty scenery not visible from elsewhere. Thrillseekers can also try their hand at white water rafting or perhaps surfing on the Atlantic Coast with world pro events held annually at Biarritz and Biscarosse.
10. The fabulous selection of Holiday Rentals!
Holiday France Direct has over 400 properties in Aquitaine available to rent for your next holiday in France, ranging from stunning chateaux in the countryside to modern villas by the coast. And, when you book with Holiday France Direct you get an amazing 20% off Brittany Ferries’ car and passenger fares with daily sailings into a range of ports in northern France and Spain.