Thanks to Joan of Arc and to the successful conclusion of the 100 years war in 1453, this territory became forever part of France after being part of the dual monarchy of England and France.. Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou Charente have merged to form what is now New Aquitaine. This new Region is made up of many other smaller ones which have been defined over time by geography, history, or administration. You will hear about Périgord, Dordogne, Gascogne, Basque Country, Marais Poitevin, Les Landes, Côte d’Argent, Lot-et-Garonne, Corrèze, Creuse, Charente, Charente Maritime, Deux Sèvres, Vienne. Even a French born traveler from the North will get lost with these names!
Bordeaux is 6th largest city in France with a unique atmosphere and 18th century grandeur that will charm you immediately. Two or three days will be hardly enough to enjoy the Old Town, Rue Sainte Catherine, Place de la Bourse, the Grand Theatre, the Place du Parlement, the Quartier des Chartrons, the Cathedrale Saint Andre, and the Musee des Beaux Arts.
There are also many daily excursion options to the Chateaux and the surrounding vineyards, the most famous of which are the Haut Medoc, Saint Emilion and Sauterne.
This province covers the three départements of La Haute Vienne, La Creuse, and La Corrèze.
Limoges stands in the centre and is known for its fine porcelain.
Limousin is a big favorite with nature lovers because of its quiet countryside and picturesque ponds and meadows. The Saintonge and the Dordogne rivers flow quietly to the West. Herds of sheep and cows graze on the vast Plateau de Mille Vaches, which also offers a large natural park where tourist can enjoy outdoor activities.
Market towns with granite walls and slate roofed houses are scattered throughout the province.
Guéret, Tulle, and Brive-La-Gaillarde with its cafes, gourmet restaurants, and shops in the pedestrian center all are very charming.
The Château de Rochechouart and village of Turenne are also interesting and worth a visit. Aubusson is famous for its tapestries. Collonge-La-Rouge, a red brique village, is considered one of the prettiest village in France.
These two provinces are linked by the Charente Valley. In Poitiers you will see the Palace and the harmonious romanesque Church of Notre Dame La Grande. A few miles away is the Futuroscope, a theme park offering many attractions, multimedia shows, 3D and 4D movies.
The village and vineyards of Cognac are known to everyone in France.
La Rochelle is very attractive with its old harbor and medieval towers.
Close by on the coast are the islands of Ile de Re and Ile d’Oleron, which are famous for their oysters.
Les Landes and the Basque Country
Driving South of Bordeaux for 200 kms towards the Spanish border you will pass first the Cote d’Argent (silver coast) with resorts such as Mimizan or Hossegor. An endless stretch of sand follows the shores of the Bay of Biscay. Formerly a region of marshes, dunes and moving sands, the land was stabilized in the 1800s with the planting of maritime pines, which now form the largest forest in France.
The dune du Pyla dominates the coast and almost makes you feel like you are in the Sahara desert. When you stay in Arcachon and enjoy this exquisite charming resort, you should not miss climbing the Dune du Pyla at sunset to admire the panorama of the Bay before returning to a local restaurant to sample the famous oysters of Arcachon.
Further south come more resorts, Biscarosse, Hossegor, Capbreton, Biarritz.
Saint Jean de Luz. Close to the spanish border is a perfect area to spend a few days. Besides the pleasures of the beach you can take daily excursions to Bayonne, which is famous for its ham, and to beautiful little basque villages like Espelette or Ainhoa where you may be able to see a game of pelota. Not far away across the border is the Spanish Basque country and it is a short drive to go to Bilbao and visit the extraordinary Guggenheim Museum.