The multi-faceted Aquitaine region
Julie Vallet, manager of the 3-star INTER-HOTEL L’Orangerie du Château des Reynats since 1999, speaks proudly of her region. A native of Piégut-Pluviers, Périgord, this affable manager is passionate about her work and enjoys introducing her guests to the rich and varied heritage of Aquitaine.
Between the sea and the mountains, Aquitaine boasts a variety of landscapes with regional flavours. Along the sea coast, the beauty of Landes and the Basque country will dazzle you. Allow yourself to be taken in by this region also known for its wines, food, bastides and art of living. "I like the varied nature in the region: vineyards, limestone terrain, lakes and woods. But I also enjoy the cultural wealth with the castles and prehistoric monuments. You can enjoy the good life here all year round. The people are uncomplicated. They like food, good wines, and life's simple pleasures."
Begin your visit to Aquitaine in its "capital", Bordeaux, situated at the heart of the world's largest fine wine vineyard. The Garonne runs through the city with cruise ships docking in the Port de la Lune. In Bordeaux each neighbourhood has a story to tell, with the number of monuments and places to discover testifying to the rich heritage of the city. Several minutes away from Bordeaux, Mérignac and its architectural heritage, with the old Saint-Vincent church, Arlac Maison Carrée and Bourrant castle, will delight you.
Also close to Bordeaux, visit Gradignan to discover the forefather of the telephone, Abbé Chappe's optical telegraph, the principle of which was to transmit optical signals via relays located at high points.
If you are staying on the outskirts of Bordeaux, make the most of the location and take a detour to Tresses, a lovely city in Gironde, prettily surrounded by a plethora of castles: Biré castle, Fontenille castle, Lisenne castle, Palot castle, Séguinie castle and Senailhac castle.
A "Périgord" escape
"I like visiting the Saint-Estèphe lake. It's small but tranquil and there is a play area for children." Located in Périgord Vert (north of Aquitaine), this site is a protected natural area.
The INTER-HOTEL L’Orangerie du Château is located in Chancelade, in the inner suburbs of Périgueux: "The hotel is located at the heart of Périgord and the Dordogne, less than an hour away from touristic sights."
Your Périgueux break is also the opportunity to visit "white" Périgord (name derived from the limestone soil in this region). Don't miss the Saint-Front cathedral, a Humanities World Heritage Site.
"The Périgueux Gallo-Roman museum is one of my favourite places. It was created in 2003 by Jean Nouvel. It is entirely enclosed in glass."
Don't miss the markets in the squares of the medieval city centre and their colourful flavours. "One of the local specialities is natural duck foie gras cooked with mushrooms and served on toasted bread."
Continue your stay by paying a visit to "Purple" Périgord (label referring to the colour of the wine) where you will find the town of Bergerac and its famous vineyards. "In terms of famous wines, there is the Bergeracois from the Domaine de l’Ancienne Cure. This Domaine is very well known."
A wonderful city with its historic centre, port and old bridge above the Dordogne, Bergerac will delight beautiful stone and nature enthusiasts. In close proximity, you will find the Maxanges caves and the amazing – and some might say "eccentric" – crystallisation that makes this site unique.
Visit Périgord Noir (a name derived, among others, from the colour of the truffles), travel to Terrasson-Lavilledieu, a short distance from Brive-la-Gaillarde, and explore the Gardens of the Imagination, located opposite the old city, where the history of mankind is recounted throughout the gardens.
Arcachon and the Dune of Pilat
Arcachon, a town situated on the eponymous basin, is famous for its many beaches and oyster farms. Make the most of this escape to breathe in the sea air and relax. Don't miss the Island of Birds or the chance to scale the famous Dune of Pilat which offers unforgettable views from its summit.
The Basque Country
Leave the coast for a while to pay a visit to Pau, the capital of Béarn, where the Fine Arts museum situated in a 1930s building houses an array of masterpieces. Don't miss the castle and enjoy the numerous green spaces perfect for walks or relaxation. Not far from Pau lies Lescar, Orthez and Serres-Castet, medieval cities in Béarn.
Visit Dax and enjoy the benefits of balneology, the local culture, the museums and the Notre-Dame cathedral or, in a different vein, have fun at the famous Dax festivals (around 15 August): courses landaises bullfighting and ferias, and musical and sporting events. Around ten miles from there, Castets awaits you for forest walks or descents down the La Palu river in a canoe-kayak.
The Landes region is particularly popular with surfers and keen swimmers. If you are looking for peace, opt for the small and well-preserved seaside resort of Ondres.
Then head in the direction of the Basque country, beginning with the famous city of Biarritz, which offers a range of activities (beaches, surfing, walks, the Rocher de la Vierge). Take in the outstanding views from the lighthouse esplanade. In the centre, the sea and chocolate (each to their own) museums will delight you. Biarritz is also the place of choice for fitness fanatics and thalassotherapy enthusiasts.
Continue your journey to the Basque Country and stop in Bayonne, just a short distance from the Spanish border. "Capital" of the Basque Country, the city known for its varied gastronomy is a must-visit. Immerse yourself in the city festivities, from bullfights to festivals and music. Enjoy the famous ham – bearing its name – to your heart's content.
Aquitaine is synonymous with diversity both for the distinct character of its departments and the range of amusements on offer. No trip to Aquitaine is complete without its food, starting with the foie gras, duck confit, fillet of duck breast, Bayonne ham and fish. All accompanied with exceptional wines.
Whether it's nature, culture or food that excites you, there is something for you in Aquitaine.