New Aquitaine (Nouvelle-Aquitaine in French) is the largest region in France, created by the reorganisation of the French departments in 2016: the regions Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes were merged in the reform. The region covers over 86,000 square kilometres and comprises a total of 12 departments including Gironde, Landes and Pyrénées-Atlantics.
Bordered by the Atlantic, this historical region is full of activities to do during a weekend: from surfing to tasting the famous wines of Bordeaux, from descending the dunes to discovering charming medieval villages.
When people think of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, they often identify it only with the city of Bordeaux. However, the region has a very diverse palette of colours and natural landscapes: salt marshes, vineyards, forests, mountains, dunes and wave-swept beaches. Aquitaine never ceases to amaze with its richness and famous places to visit.
Renowned for its excellent wine, Bordeaux is a city not to be missed, with a heritage rich in culture and history. With its welcoming and relaxed atmosphere, it is the ideal place to savour typical French gastronomy in one of the many cafés and restaurants in the historic centre, take a romantic stroll along the Garonne, get lost in the picturesque alleyways or go shopping in the pedestrian streets of Sainte Catherine.
During your visit, start at the famous Place de la Bourse and its sublime fountain, continue to Place des Quinconques, admire the Saint-André de Bordeaux Cathedral and the National Opera and finally, in the evening, head to the Saint-Pierre district to enjoy a lively evening.
A charming seaside town on the Basque coast, Biarritz and its famous Virgin Rock welcomes tourists with its typical south-western atmosphere: beautiful sandy beaches, the famous casino, spectacular ocean views, the Biarritz lighthouse, the aquarium and tasty Basque cuisine.
The city is very popular with surfers and offers great spots for experts or beginners to ride the ocean waves.
At the entrance to the Arcachon basin stands the highest dune in Europe: the Dune du Pilat. With a height of over 100 metres, this 200-year-old sand dune will take you into a desert universe.
This huge sandbank plunges straight into the sea, creating a surreal landscape and is one of the must-see stops when visiting Aquitaine. After a strenuous climb, you can admire splendid views, go paragliding or simply have fun on the sand.
Bayonne is a city with a very well-preserved architectural heritage, characterised by steep medieval streets lined with houses with arcades and half-timbered façades . The centre is dotted with beautiful buildings such as the Château-Vieux, the Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral and the remains of fortifications.
Bayonne also lends itself to the discovery of Basque tradition, present in many forms thanks to the numerous shops along the Nive, where you will also find the Halles de Bayonne, a traditional market that knows how to delight the taste buds.
The charm of the Ile de Ré amazes its visitors. After crossing the Ile de Ré bridge, you will be immersed in a wonderful maritime atmosphere. This large island is full of activities to try: rather flat, it lends itself perfectly to exploring by bicycle, walking along the long sandy beaches, surfing, windsurfing and many other water sports.
The town also has several historical monuments: you can discover the Abbey of Notre-Dame-de-Ré, climb the many steps of the Phare des Baleines for a breathtaking panoramic view of the coast and the island, visit Fort La Prée or the fortifications of the town of Saint-Martin-de-Ré.
A small coastal city along the Atlantic coast, La Rochelle retains the charm of a lively provincial town. Its special features are the imposing 15th-century fortifications: La Tour de la Chaîne, the Tour Saint-Nicolas and the Tour de la Lanterne. It is possible to buy a pass to climb to the top of the towers and enjoy breathtaking views of the coast and the city.
The medieval-style old town and the terraces of the Old Port are also wonderful for a seafood break. Don’t miss the Maritime Museum to learn about the city’s seafaring tradition and the famous aquarium, spread over 2 floors and dedicated to the marine world.
Hossegor is a charming town bordered by superb sandy beaches stretching along the coast. A surfer’s paradise, it enjoys excellent surf spots such as La Gravière.
Every year, the town hosts some of the most prestigious sporting competitions such as the Quicksilver and Roxy pro. This city is therefore a must for any experienced surfer, but will also delight beginners and those who simply wish to witness the spectacle of the intrepid wave riders.
In the heart of the Basque Country and just a few kilometres from the Spanish border is Saint-Jean-de-Luz: this pleasant town on the Atlantic coast will amaze you with its typical, picturesque houses. Don’t miss a visit to the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the Fort of Socoa.
In addition, the town boasts beautiful beaches along the coast where swimming, sunbathing and water activities are popular with tourists. And after a busy day at the beach, you can relax on the terraces and enjoy typical Basque gastronomy: the brave can try the famous Espelette chilli.
The lively city of Limoges attracts visitors with its pleasant streets, its cathedral Saint-Etienne de Limoges and the bishop’s palace gardens. Famous for its porcelain, Limoges will also allow you to discover the secrets of these creations at the Adrien Dubouché National Museum.
A few kilometres from the city, the Périgord-Limosino regional nature park and the famous Millevaches park are perfect for pleasant walks in the heart of nature. Finally, not far from Limoges, the sad story of Oradour-Sur-Glane unfolded : of the ancient village, which suffered a terrible massacre during the war in 1944, all that remains are ruins, mute witnesses to an ugly page of history.
This beautiful city preserves splendid historical monuments such as the church of Notre-Dame-La-Grande and the cathedral of Saint-Pierre.
Lately, Poitiers has become famous for the amazing and famous Futuroscope amusement park, which offers many amazing attractions on technological and scientific themes. The park is constantly being updated and new attractions are always being created to adapt to the latest technology.
Sarlat La Cadenat is the capital of Périgord and will take you back in time to the Middle Ages through pleasant walks along its pedestrian streets. All dressed in yellow and beige, the town invites you on a journey out of time. Pleasant and welcoming, it invites tourists to visit at their leisure: linger in the many cafés and restaurants with terraces, serving the delicious specialities of the Périgord region, and browse in the small artisans’ workshops, which colour the alleys of the centre.
But Sarlat la Cadenat is above all a historic, fortified town with a rich architectural heritage: it consists of wonderful Gothic and Renaissance buildings, such as the Plamon palace, the Magnanat palace or the Vassal palace and a large Benedictine abbey of Carolingian origin.
Discovered in 1940 by four teenagers in Montignac, Dordogne, in the Vézère valley, the caves of Lascaux preserve an exceptional heritage from the prehistoric period: wall art 17,000 years old. The scenes, painted on the walls of the caves more than 15,000 thousand years ago, tell stories of hunting, everyday life and even the celestial constellations as our ancestors saw them.
Unfortunately, intense tourist exploitation in the early years risked irreversibly damaging this historical treasure. Indeed, the breath of visitors altered the surface of the walls and in 1955 the first signs of deterioration appeared. Reluctantly, in 1963, the Lascaux cave was closed to the public. In order to allow visitors to admire these incredible works of art, a perfect replica was built a few metres away.
Classified as a historical monument in 1966, Castelnaud Castle dominates the Dordogne valley and overlooks the village of Beynac to the north and the site of the hanging gardens of Marqueyssac opposite, in the bend of the river. Owned by the Rossillon family, the castle built from the 12th to the 15th century has benefited from three major restoration campaigns to make it one of the most visited sites in the Périgord Noir today.
Entirely devoted to the art of warfare in the Middle Ages, this fortified castle is a children’s dream: mighty keep, battlements, life-size reconstructions of war machines and a vast collection of weapons and armour grouped in the Museum of Warfare in the Middle Ages. Throughout the year, themed activities are offered such as armour tests, trebuchet shooting demonstrations or costume parties in the summer season.
Like neighbouring Occitania, Aquitaine is also home to a portion of the Pyrenean massif. Don’t miss a stop in Pau, the capital of the Pyrenees, with its strong Basque culture.
An excursion to the famous Pic du Midi d’Ossau is not to be missed : the Artouste train, the second highest railway in France after the Tramway du Mont-Blanc, will take you to an altitude of more than 2,000 metres, along 10 km of incredible thrills.
In the park, you will also discover numerous lakes, rock cirques and beautiful landscapes that only the Pyrenees hold.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
This is an unmissable stop in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. The wine route is incredible: vineyards as far as the eye can see, prestigious châteaux and enchanting villages, lulled by warm light and rich in colour, await you. These landscapes are imbued with a beauty that makes you dream.
The vineyards of Bordeaux offer the opportunity for beautiful walks, following the 5 wine roads that exist in the region, which can also be explored by car or by bicycle to enjoy the sublime landscapes while preserving these fragile environments.
Moreover, by visiting the town of St-Emilion, the Médoc region and Pessac, you will discover the places where some of the world’s best wines are produced. In addition to the vineyards, wine cellars and excellent tastings, you can admire prestigious châteaux that will amaze you with their beauty and lush green gardens.
Alternatively, you can consider landing at one of the main airports in the French capital, Paris/Orly Airport or Paris/Charles-de-Gaulle Airport and then continue by train or car. In fact, Paris is a 6-hour drive from Bordeaux.
With the L’Océane high-speed line, you can reach Poitiers in 1 hour and 18 minutes, 2 hours to Bordeaux. Other cities such as La Rochelle, Niort, Arcachon, Pau, Dax, Bayonne are served by the TGV, the direct line from Paris.