Points of interest

A Springtime Trip to Aquitaine

As the weather warms up, one of the most diverse regions of France welcomes you with stunning scenery and attractions.

Well, we also recommend Paris too, of course, but Aquitaine in the spring is equally captivating. From seaside resorts to verdant vineyards, one of the largest regions of France has everything for the perfect getaway.

With stunning vineyards, bustling cities, long winding rivers, surfing beaches, picturesque villages and beautifully-dense woodlands, it’s no wonder that the region of Aquitaine is a major pull for visitors from the UK. Spring is an ideal time to visit too, before the busier peak season in the summer. 

Used wine corks in a basket, with wine regions imprinted on them, such as Bordeaux

Where is Aquitaine?

This beautiful area in southwest France is now officially called Nouvelle-Aquitaine, after territorial changes in 2016 merged the previous regions of Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes into one. In this article we are focusing on the historic region of Aquitaine, which stretches from the Pyrenees in the south to the limestone hills of Lot-et-Garonne in the north, from the beautiful beaches of the Pays Basque and Atlantic coast to the vineyards and river valleys of the Dordogne.

Here are some of the driving times from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Calais Terminal to the major towns and cities of Aquitaine:

  • Périgueux – 8 ½ hours (including tolls)
  • Bordeaux - 8 ½ hours (including tolls)
  • Bergerac – 9 hours (including tolls)
  • Biarritz – 10 ½ hours (including tolls)
  • Pau – 10 ¼ hours (including tolls)

The highlights of Aquitaine

There are so many places to visit in Aquitaine, that the highlights come tumbling at you like the breakers at Biarritz. You will have your own individual to-do lists, but we think they should include the following:

Bordeaux

A plaza at dusk with two blocks of buildings facing each other, drawing the eye to a gatehouse with blue towers

Known as the principal city in Aquitaine, Bordeaux is most famous for being the hub of the wine-growing region, which produces 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!

Did you know that though Bordeaux is famous for its delicious red wine, until the 1970s the region actually produced more white wine than red?

Pau

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.

This lovely old French town is a wonderful place to visit and unwind, bringing a welcome change from more touristy spots. There is one exception, however. Towards the end of May each year the Grand Prix de Pau motor race hurtles around Pau’s tight streets. It’s a good option if you’re looking for something exciting to do during your stay.

The funicular is a quaint method of transportation 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.

Biarritz

Towering cliffs, a long sandy beach with tides rolling in on a summer’s day, with blue sky, white clouds and a seaside town

The jewel in the crown of the French Basque coast is Biarritz. The fashionable seaside city, rich in art deco architecture, is a must for fans of food and drink, art and culture and watersports. There are plenty of colourful sights with its white sandy beaches, azure waters, delightful cafes and restaurants. 

Beauty is everywhere in Biarritz. Stroll along the promenade and marina at sunset and you will more than get a whiff of La Belle Epoque in the late 19th-century (‘the beautiful era’), as well as rubbing shoulders with high society and the ‘beautiful people’ of today.

Biscarrosse, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Less than two hours drive up the coast from Biarritz and you will find more seaside splendour in Biscarrosse. Surfers head here for the dramatic waves that come in from the Bay of Biscay and crash on the beach, while families enjoy more gentle water fun at the Plage de Navarosse and Plage de Maguide, where there is mini-golf, pedalos and windsurfing among the activities available. 

No stop in Biscarrosse is complete without climbing the Dune du Pilat. At 110m high, it’s the highest sandhill in Europe. It’s hard going, but there are great views from the top!

Check out our more detailed guide to Biscarrosse here

Périgueux

A cathedral with Eastern-influenced domes and towers, overlooks an ordinary street of buildings, with moving cars

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.

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!

Mont De Marsan

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

Though Mont-de-Marsan is a hidden gem in itself, the Despiau-Wlérick Museum is a remarkable place to visit. The museum is devoted to the work of two local figurative sculptors, Charles Despiau and Robert Wlérick. 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.

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. They like their rugby and their wine here, and are proud of their local rugby team Agen Lot-et-Garonne; Floc de Gascogne is their famous tipple, and is ideal with melon and Bayonne ham.

Bayonne

A summer’s day, a road bridge across wide river. Colourful narrow buildings line riverside. Two spires dominate skyline

The capital of the French Basque Country and the birthplace of French chocolate, Bayonne is by far one of the most beautiful places in the south-west. The region is renowned for producing some of the finest chocolates in the country. If you've got a sweet tooth, then “l'Atelier du Chocolat” tour is a must. 

While you’re in Bayonne, it’s worth exploring the city too; there’s so much to see and do, and it was recently recognised for its exceptional cultural heritage.

Bergerac

The lovelorn literary hero Cyrano de Bergerac made the town in the Dordogne famous (even though he never set foot there). The locals don’t seem to mind, as there are at least two statues of him in Bergerac. With its beautiful half-timbered houses, quaint little squares and unique museums, Bergerac is worth visiting in itself, and as an ideal base to explore the surrounding region, full of beautiful vineyards, rolling hills and idyllic riverside villages.

Start your Aquitaine adventure with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Aquitaine awaits, and it is closer than you think. France is just 35 minutes away via Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. Driving to the different departments of Aquitaine from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Calais Terminal will take between 8-10 ½ hours, but can be broken with stops at places like Rouen, Le Mans, Poitiers and Tours.

My Eurotunnel App

Create a My Eurotunnel account to securely store, manage and use your information for faster and easier bookings - also now available on iOS and Android! Find out more or create an account.

Start your journey to Aquitaine with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

In this article

More about Aquitaine

Loading...