Aquitaine Region

General Info

Regional Map
Conseil Régional
Tourism: Comité Régional de Tourisme
Capital: Bordeaux
Departments: Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Arrondissements-18, Cantons-235, Communes-2,296
Population: 3,277,748 (2013 est.)
Find more about Weather in Bordeaux, FR
France Aquitaine Region Departments Map

Overview

France Bordeaux grapes
Aquitaine stretches from the Massif Central to the Atlantic ocean, and south to the Pyrénées mountains along the Spanish border. The regional capital city of Bordeaux is an important port city and the whole region produces some of the world's greatest wines. It covers about 500 square miles of vineyards, has 57 appellations and some 9,000 wine-producing châteaux that create over 700 million bottles of Bordeaux wine every year. The least typical département, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, incorporates the Northern Basque Country where the independent people of Pays Basque have wanted their own territory and cling to their unique heritage and language.

Dordogne départment is known as Périgord to the French and has many foreign residents. Périgord is divided into four areas referred to by color: Pourpre (purple) to the south named after the grapes grown there, Noir (black) to the east named for the dark-oak forests, Blanc (white) across the center with Périgueux at the center, and Vert (green) to the north with its lush green countryside and maize fields. The Périgord area is noted for foie gras & especially truffes (truffles), a subterranean mushroom (tuber) found in Périgord Noir (also called the black diamond truffle).

The history and natural resources of the Périgord make it one of the most unspoilt regions of Europe and the famous Paleolithic (17,000 year-old) painted caves of Lascaux are here. While the orginial caves are closed to the public for preservation, three replica caves are available with "Lascaux 4" under contruction and expected to open in July 2015.

Aquitaine Departmental Information

Notable Towns and Sights in the Aquitaine Region

Agen (Lot-et-Garonne) is the mecca of French rugby and the center of plum-prune production in France. It has a national reputation for having the most inhabitants in the country. Its sights include the Musée Municipal des Beaux Arts which has paintings by Goya, Sisley, a Corot landscape, and in the collection of Greek marble the Vénus du Mas from the 1st-century B.C. The town is surrounded by plum orchards which were originally imported by Crusaders returning from the Middle East in the 11th-century. In present day, the local factories produce 35,500 tons (32,205 metric tons) of prunes each year. Office de Tourisme France Aquitaine Agen
Arcachon or Bassin d'Arcachon (Gironde) is a coastal resort 34 miles (55km) southwest of Bordeaux and was developed over the last 150 years. At its south entrance from the Atlantic ocean, the Bassin d'Arcachon is crowned by Europe's largest sand dune, the Dune de Pyla (photo) (or du Pilat), nearly 1.8 miles long (3 km), 1,640 feet wide (500 m) and reaching 350 feet (107 m) in height. The beautiful Basilica Notre-Dame (photo) d'Arcachon towers over the resort. France Aquitaine Arcachon
Bayonne (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) is the capital of the French Basque country and lies at the confluence of the swift Nive and the wide and relaxed Adour rivers. The 13th-century doubled-spired northern-gothic Cathédrale de Sainte-Marie (photo) is in the commercial Grand Bayonne district. Petit Bayonne lies on the other side of the Nive River and here you find lively Basque bars and restaurants more reminiscent of cities on the other side of the Pyrénées. Also here are the Musée Basque and the excellent Musée Bonnat which hosts works by Leonardo, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Goya, Constable, Poussin, Ingres, Deags, Botticelli, Greco, and Rubens. Tourisme France Aquitaine Bayonne
Bergerac (Dordogne) has a small port, tobacco farming, and a commercial center (photo). Notable here is the Musée du Tabac (tobacco). The area is sometimes called the "Gateway to the Périgord" and has beautiful cobbled streets and plenty of rental housing. Bergerac-Tourisme France Aquitaine Bergerac
Biarritz (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) is 11 miles (18km) from the Spanish border and was originally a whaling village. When Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, built a palace on the beach in the 19th-century, the town evolved into a frequent vacation spot for various European royalty. Spectacular cliffs and lookouts lie to the west of the main beach. Sights include the Asiatica Museum, which houses a significant collection of Asian art primarily from India, Nepal, Tibet, and China. The Musée de la Mer (sea) boasts 24 aquariums containing sharks and seals. The annual Biarritz Surf Festival on the beach at the Côte des Basques is the premier surf event in Europe. Notable sights include the 12th-century Saint-Martin's Church restored in the middle of the 16th century, the 19th-century Russian Orthodox Church constructed for visiting Russian aristocrats with its famous blue dome, and the Chapelle Imperiale built for Empress Eugenie which has an intricately decorated roof interior, and elegant wall tiling. Also here is the Museum of Chocolate, which explains its history and manufacturing process. France Aquitaine Biarritz center

Aquitaine Biarritz beach
Bordeaux (Gironde), built on a curve of the Garonne River, has been an important port since pre-Roman times and is a world famous wine-producing area (photo). This capital city of nearly a million people has numerous sights to explore including the 18th-century Grand Théâtre, Eglise Saint-Seurin, Basilique Saint-Michel, the Musée des Beaux Arts, Musée d'Aqutaine, Cathédrale Saint André, and Le CAPC (Centre d'Arts Plastiques Contemporain). The essence of the city is found along the lively Allées de Tournay, Cours de l'Intendance, and Cours Clemenceau avenues. Worth a visit is Place Saint-Pierre and the beautiful church of Saint-Pierre (photo) France Aquitaine Bordeaux grapes
Bourdeilles (Dordogne) is small town with great sights- a narrow Gothic bridge, a mill upstream, and the 13-16th century Château de Bourdeilles (photo) that towers above the town (tours available). France Aquitaine Bordeilles
Brantôme (Dordogne) is surrounded on all sides by the Dronne River. It has a well-deserved reputation for good restaurants, ancient riverside gardens, and the town hall which was once a massive Benedictine abbey (photo) from the mid-700's and has an 11th-century belfry. France Aquitaine Brantome
Cap Ferret (Gironde) is west and across the water from Arcachon and is at the point of the long, thin peninsula of dunes and forests that dominate this area. It is one of the more chic resorts in the country and the area has a lush and beautiful quality much like the Caribbean islands. France Aquitaine Cap Ferret

Dax (Landes) is known for its thermal spa similar to the one in Aix-les-Bains. This hot springs maintains a temperature of 147 degrees F (64° C). Dax also has the 13th-century Cathédrale Notre Dame (photo) and the walk along the Adour River is a peaceful experience. France Aquitaine Dax hot springs
Domme (Dordogne) is a 13th-century bastide town built of golden stone which overlooks the spectacular Dordogne River Valley for several miles. It still has ramparts standing and there is an accessible (via elevator) large cavern under the 19th-century covered market. It is one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. France Aquitaine Domme view of Dordogne river
Hossegor (Landes) is well known as a seaside resort, surfing center, and is considered to be one of the best surfing locales in the world. France Aquitaine Hossegor beach
La Côte d'Argent (Gironde & Landes) is a long stretch of coast from the mouth of the Gironde estuary to Biarritz and being over 124 miles (200km) long, is the straightest and sandiest in Europe. Nicknamed the "Silver Coast", it has a few seaside resorts as well as lakes inland which connect to one another and to the ocean via courants (currents). There are presently deserted stretches of coastline and relatively few tourist sights. France Aquitaine Cote d'Argent
Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil (Dordogne) is in the Vézère Valley in the heart of Périgord Noir (Black). It is notable for the fact that in March 1868, the geologist Louis Lartet discovered the first five skeletons of Cro-Magnons, the earliest known examples of homosapiens in the Cro-Magnon rock shelter here. Worth visiting is the Musée National de Préhistoire in a 16th-century castle overlooking the village, the Grotte de Font de Gaume, the Grotte des Combarelles, and the rock shelter of Abri du Cap Blanc dicovered in 1901. On the other side of the town are the caves of Rouffignac with 5 miles (8km) of caves part of which are accessible by electric train. Grotte du Grand Roc and Laugerie Basse. France Aquitaine Les Eyzies bone
Les Landes (Gironde & Landes) is a flat, sandy area covered almost entirely by an immense pine forest. Until the 1900's the area would become a swamp in winter, but has since been drained. Worthwhile towns here are Marqueze with a clearing to commemorate the vanished swamp, Luxey with a museum dedicated to the tapping and distilling of resin, and Lévignacq near the coast with a 14th-century fortified church decorated with simple frescoes. Map France Aquitaine Cote d'Argent
Libourne (Gironde) is the winemaking capital of northern Gironde and is located at the confluence of the Dordogne and Isle rivers east of Bordeaux. Sights include the gothic church with its 232 foot spire, a clock tower from the 14th-century ramparts, and the main square Place D'abel Surchamp hosts one of the largest markets in the region every weekend. Tourisme France Aquitaine Libourne
Montastruc (Lot-et-Garonne) is an agricultural village which has a town hall housed in an old fortified castle with views from its windows that are breathtaking. France Aquitaine Montastruc
Mont-de-Marsan (Landes) is a bullfighting center and attracts the great bullfighters of France and Spain during the summer. Less bloody and popular is the local variation of the sport, course landaise where the fighter leaps over the horns and back of the charging bull. France Aquitaine Mont-de-Marsan
Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) is a lively university town and was originally a crossing point overlooking the valley of the Gave de Pau river for sheep being taken to the high meadows of the Pyrénées towards Spain. Notable is the Boulevard des Pyrénées, a walk of 1/2 mile (.75km) from the Château de Pau (photo) to the Parc du Beaumont with magnificent views of the Pyrénées mountain range. The Château is the principal sight here and was the birthplace of the 16th-century king of France, Henry IV. There is also the Musée des Beaux Arts hosting a Degas, Rubens Last Judgement, and works by El Greco. France Aquitaine Gave de Pau
Pauillac (Gironde) is situated on the west bank of the Gironde river and is one of the most famous communes of the Médoc wine region. It is home to three important châteaux- The medieval Château Lafite-Rothschild (photo) which is closed to the public, Château Mouton-Rothschild (photo) uses local artists to create its wine labels, and Château Latour (photo) with its distinctive stone turret. The town has picturesque views of the river and many cafés that serve local wines. France Aquitaine Pauillac Chateau Pichon Lalande
Périgueux (Dordogne) is the crossroads of the Périgord and a busy capital. The heart of the city surrounds the spectacular 12th-century (and reconstructed in the 19th) Cathédrale Saint-Front (photo) which was architectural inspiration for the Basilique Sacré-Coeur in Paris. Nearby is the worthwhile Musée du Périgord which is one of France's best prehistory museums. Cobble streets are accomapnied with renaissance building facades. The southwest quarter, known as La Cité, was the sight of the Gallo-Roman settlement Vesunna and some remains of the temple and large arena remain. France Aquitaine Pauillac Chateau Pichon Lalande
Saint-Amand-de-Coly (Dordogne) is one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and the abbey is an outstanding example of fortified architecture and was built in the 12th-13th centuries by Augustinian monks. Aquitaine Saint Amand de Coly
Saint Cyprien en Périgord (Dordogne) village has much to offer historically starting with the narrow streets winding up to the 12th-century abbey with a 9th-century belltower. Around 620 A.D. a hermit named Cyprien settled in a cave that overlooked the Dordogne valley. Others settled around him and a monastic community evolved. Barbarian invasions in the mid 9th-century forced the monks to build defensive ramparts of which only the belltower survives. In 1568, Calvinist troops burned the priory to the ground during the Wars of Religion. The present monastery was rebuilt in 1685. Aquitaine Saint Cyprien village
Saint-Émilion (Gironde) is a charming village 21 miles (35km) northeast of Bordeaux and lends its name to the appellation of the fine red wine. Saint Emilion was a hermit who dug out a cave in the 8th-century which evolved into a monastery, and then in the middle ages grew into a small town. Medieval houses still remain as well as parts of the 13th-century ramparts. Saint-Émilion is one of the four principal red wine areas of Bordeaux the others being Médoc, Graves and Pomerol. The beautiful monolithic Saint Emilion (photo) church is the focal point of the town. France Aquitaine Saint-Emilion
Saint-Jean-de-Côle (Dordogne) is one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and is a tiny village set in hilly countryside with stone and half-timbered houses. There is a 12th-century church, covered marketplace, and a 12th-century chateau, Le Chateau de la Marthonie (photo). France Aquitaine Saint-Emilion
Saint-Jean-de-Luz (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) is a fishing port on the Basque coast south of Biarritz and is also now a famous resort. It is known for its architecture, sandy bay, the quality of the natural light, and its cuisine. France Aquitaine Saint-Jean-de-Luz
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) or "Saint John at the foot of the mountain pass" has traditionally been an important stop on the "Way of St. James", the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, as it stands at the base of the Roncevaux Pass across the Pyrenees. The routes from Paris, Vézelay and Le Puy-en-Velay meet at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and it was the pilgrims' last stop before the arduous mountain crossing. The 14th century red schist Gothic church, Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont, stands by the Porte d'Espagne. Fortified-Places France Aquitaine Saint-Jean-de-Luz
Sarlat -la-Canéda (Dordogne) is famous for having the highest concentration of medieval, Renaissance, and 17th-century façades in all of France. It's wealth and prosperity was a result of loyalty to the French crown during the Hundred Years' War. It is in the area known as Périgord Noir (Black). Office de Tourisme and Périgord Dordogne Tourisme France Aquitaine Sarlat
Sorges en Périgord (Dordogne) is a residential and agricultural village and attracts many visitors. It is renowned for its black truffles, cepe and morel mushrooms, walnuts, geese, and ducks. A traditional local recipe is boiled chicken with Sorges sauce. France Aquitaine Sorges

Les Plus Beaux Villages in the Aquitaine Region

Dordogne

Belvès
Beynac-et-Cazenac
Domme
La Roque-Gageac
Limeuil
Monpazier
Saint-Amand-de-Coly
Saint-Jean-de-Côle
Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère

Gironde

-

Landes

-

Lot-et-Garonne

Monflanquin
Pujols-le-Haut

Pyrénées-Atlantiques

Aïnhoa
La Bastide-Clairence
Sare
France Aquitaine region map
Complete List of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

Natural Parks in the Aquitaine Region

Regional

PNR Périgord Limousin
PNR des Landes de Gascogne

National

Parc National des Pyrénées
Complete List of Natural Parks in France

Additional Resources for the Aquitaine Region

Dordogne

ARC-space Architecture
The Dordogne Info
North of the Dordogne
Périgord

Gironde

Bordeaux Wine
Bordeaux-Expo
Bordeaux Development Agency
Bordeaux Gironde Convention
Bordeaux Transp. Bus/Tram

Landes

Landes Cote Sud Camping

Lot-et-Garonne

Pyrénées-Atlantiques

Pyrénées-Atlantiques

Other

Anglo-Info-Aquitaine
Museum of the Château de Pau
Roquetaillade

Average Monthly Temperatures in the Aquitaine Region

Top of page