February 16, 2017

Discover the scenic towns and villages of France’s Aquitaine region Discover the scenic towns and villages of France’s Aquitaine region © Flickr user Gilles Messian


Made up of a number of picturesque landscapes, the Aquitaine region is one of the most diverse parts of France. With stunning vineyards, bustling cities, long winding rivers, surfing beaches, medieval villages and beautifully-dense woodlands, it’s no wonder that this beautiful area in southwest France is famous for its rich heritage, traditions and culture.

There are five main towns and cities to visit in Aquitaine, each of them with their own individual irresistible qualities. Bordeaux, Périgueux, Mont-de-Marsan, Agen and Pau are all worth visiting in their own right, so read on as we take you through the best things to see and do in each department this spring.


Bordeaux

Known as the principal city in Aquitaine, Bordeaux is most famous for being the hub of the wine-growing region. Producing 900 million bottles of wine each year, any lover of wine will want to make a visit to some of the area’s infamous wine trails. It’s best to book through the Bordeaux Tourist Office, which offers a range of excursions and tours. Visit dedicated winemakers and return home enriched with knowledge on how to produce the perfect une verre de vin!

Hidden Gem

If you find yourself in Bordeaux on a peaceful Sunday morning, head to the quays, where you’ll find a quaint weekly market, known to the locals as Marché de Bordeaux Colbert. Worth setting your alarm and getting up early for, the market is brimming with regional treats and located next to the beautiful Garonne River, which is lovely for a stroll or a cycle. Why not treat yourself to some fresh food and a bottle of wine, and enjoy a relaxing picnic along the river?
Favourite Plate: Entrecote à la Bordelaise is a dish that consists of rib steak cooked in a rich, flavoursome gravy. This is made from Bordeaux wine, butter, shallots, herbs and bone marrow
Famous Wine: Saint-Estèphe
Perfect Pairing: Roasted, braised or grilled meats (steak, veal, pork, beef, game)

Psst!

Though Bordeaux is famous for its delicious red wine, until the 1970s, the region actually produced more white wine than red!

 

Pau

Discover Pau Castle

Discover Pau Castle © Flickr user Tony Hisgett
A quiet, dignified town that is home to some astounding views of the snow-capped Pyrénées, the main part of Pau is situated on top of a cliff, around 100 feet above the Gave de Pau River.

Though this typically-French town does not have any big name attractions, it’s a wonderful place to visit and unwind, bringing a welcome change from more touristic spots. The only exception to this is the Grand Prix de Pau race, which has been held here since the 1930s. Usually held towards the end of May, it’s a good option if you’re looking for something exciting to do during your stay.

Hidden Gem(s)
Pau Castle

A visit to Pau Castle, the birth place of King Henri IV of France, is a must. The Château de Pau is well preserved, and is home to some of the best preserved tapestries in France. A guided tour is recommended for families new to the destination, so make sure you book yourself on to a tour where you will understand the language.

Psst!

Legend has it that when King Henri IV was born, his grandfather rubbed a clove of garlic and a drop of Jurançon wine on his lips in order to protect him from disease. He was then placed in a cradle made from a turtle shell – it was said that this would bring a long, healthy life to any child that was placed inside. See if you can spot the shell on your tour!


Le Funiculaire

Le funiculaire is a quaint, old-style method of transportation that visitors can use to get from one level of the town to another. Take the short trip free of charge, and enjoy panoramic views of the Pyrenees as you’re effortlessly transported across Pau.
Favourite Plate: a creamy type of cheese called bebis, which is made from ewe’s milk.
Wine of choice: Jurançon
Perfect Pairing: Pears, apricots, cheese


Mont De Marsan

Mont De Marsan

Mont De Marsan © Flickr user DylanLgrng


Mont-de-Marsan, otherwise known as the ‘Town of the three rivers’, is located on the border of the Landes forest. This idyllic destination is often overlooked by holidaymakers, but is rich in history and culture. Renowned for its beautiful sculptures and medieval houses, which date back to the 12th century, a lot of the town’s architecture was once part of the defensive walls, making it an ideal location for history buffs.

Hidden Gem(s)
Despiau-Wlérick Museum

Though Mont-de-Marsan is a hidden gem in itself, the Despiau-Wlérick Museum is a remarkable place to visit. Devoted to 20th century figurative sculpture, if you’re a lover of modern and contemporary art, then scribble this into your schedule. The museum is based around the work of two local sculptors, Charles Despiau and Robert Wlérick, and features pieces by approximately one-hundred artists from the beginning of the 20th century. The museum is based in the old Lacataye Dungeon, and features a sculpture garden and library, as well as a beautiful panoramic view of the town and its surrounding countryside from the terrace of the tower.

Jean-Rameau Park

Enjoy a wholesome stroll in the picturesque Jean-Rameau Park. Stretched along the Douze River, the park is filled with plants, sculptures by the aforementioned Charles Despiau, a quaint bandstand, a children’s play area and a beautiful Japanese garden, home to ferns, hydrangeas and different grasses.
Famous Wine: Château de Marsan Rouge, Bordeaux Superieur, France
Perfect Pairing: Beef, veal, game, poultry


Périgueux

Périgueux

Périgueux


As if taken straight from the pages of a history book, a daytrip to Périgueux is like stepping into a time machine. Most attractions are within walking distance, so you can enjoy strolling down cobbled medieval side streets, admiring the half-timbered houses and architecture. Rewind through the centuries, discover cathedrals and museums, and immerse yourself in the local history and culture.

Hidden Gem(s):
Perfect for culture vultures, the Musée d'Art et d'Archéologie du Périgord is one of the most renowned museums in the whole of France. Its main draws include a skeleton of the Neanderthal adult, ‘Regourdou man’ – make sure you don’t miss it!

Perfect for history enthusiasts and foodies alike, be sure to stop by Place du Coderec, which plays host to a daily market, selling locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s the perfect place to stock up on delectable treats for a self-catering holiday. If the sun’s out, the streets of Périgueux are perfect for enjoying a picnic and dining al fresco.

Psst!

Our tip is to brush up on your French language skills to give you the edge when haggling down prices at the local markets.
Famous Wine: Pécharmant
Perfect Pairing: Red meats, pork


Agen

Halfway between Bordeaux and Toulouse you’ll find the charming commune of Agen. With canals, rivers and stunning gothic architecture, the city is (bizarrely) best known for its prunes! Grown in nearby villages and distributed locally, it’s worth picking up a handful if you get the chance.

The people of Agen are known to be extremely accommodating and friendly, so don’t be shy when speaking to locals. If you’re an avid rugby fan, then don’t hesitate to visit any of the bars or cafés during the rugby season, as you’ll feel right at home; the city is home to Agen Lot-et-Garonne Rugby Club, and it’s the local’s favourite sport.

Hidden Gem:
Happy Forest

An unforgettable adventure for the whole family and just five minutes from the centre of rural Agen, you’ll find a forest full of hundred-year-old oak trees. Perfect for adventure-hungry, active souls (and a great day out for the kids!), you can enjoy zip lines, cycling routes, kayaking and more. There are camping sites that are perfect for the outdoor-types amongst you, so pack your tent and your sleeping bags and prepare for an adventure!
Famous Wine: Floc de Gascogne
Perfect Pairing: Melon, Bayonne ham 

 

Interested in visiting the Aquitaine region? Just say “oui” to indulging in some fine wine and cuisine and discover more hidden gems with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. We take you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35-minutes, giving you more time to plan those last-minute adventures.

 

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