The Aquitaine region, located in the south west of France, is bordered along the whole of its west coast by long sandy beaches and the Atlantic Ocean.
Aquitaine is home to the mythical city of Bordeaux, the famous vineyards of Saint Emilion, Médoc and Sauternes and the Basque country with its preserved traditions and language. You can visit a region rich of prehistoric sites (Dordogne) and travel through one of the world’s most famous wine region. Your trip simply won’t lack in variety.
Bordeaux > Saint-Emilion / Bordeaux > Arcachon
Bordeaux, at the heart of Aquitaine, is only 3 hours away by TGV from Paris. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, it is the epicurean destination par excellence.
You can start your day by a walk along the Quais de la Garonne overlooked by the harmonious 18th century façades. Take a break on a terrasse in the quartier Saint-Pierre to sample some of the finest wines together with a Magret de canard and a cannelé (local pastry). Continue your day to the cathedral Saint-André and the nearby Pey-Berland tower for a panorama over the city. In the evening you can shop in the Rue Saint-Catherine and have a drink in the Allées de Tourny with a view over the Grand Théâtre.
On the second day you can choose from two equally interesting trips.
Wine amateurs can take a TER (30 min trip) to Saint-Emilion, one of the world’s most famous vineyards, or opt for a guided tour in a vineyard to taste one of the famous vintage wines of Margaux, Pauillac or Saint-Julien.
Nature lovers can reach the Bassin d’Arcachon (1h trip) to enjoy a moment of pure bliss on top of its Dune du Pyla (Europe’s highest sand dune) which has an imposing view over the Atlantic Ocean. With its charming 19th century villas and villages where you can indulge in oyster tasting, you will have no excuses not to relax.
Our tip: Bordeaux’s tramways are practical and easy to use. When in Bassin d’Arcachon have a ride in a pinasse (traditional wooden boat).
Bordeaux > Basque country
Discover the Basque country through Biarritz, a popular surfing destination only 2 hours from Bordeaux. A morning stroll along the Grande Plage is the perfect way to start the day. On the way you can drop in the waterfront casino and afterwards continue to the iconic Rocher de la Vierge. End the day perfectly in one of the excellent thalassotherapy centers along the coastline. Indeed Biarritz is a famous resort bathed in the atmosphere of a fishing village.
The next day, take the TER (10 min trip) to Bayonne, discover its red and green building façades (the Basque national colours) and plunge into the local culture. Taste specialities like the Axoa, sheep’s milk cheese or the Bayonne ham and bring back some piment d’Espelette (local chili).
Our tip: Basque lovers can participate in the very typical Fêtes de Bayonne which takes place in August.
Bordeaux > Dordogne
Bordeaux is 1 hour by train from Périgueux or Bergerac and 3 hours from Sarlat. These towns are ideal starting points for exploring the Dordogne (Périgord). Learn to cook local specialities with an illustrious chef: foie gras, truffles, magret de canard... and learn how to marry them with the wines of Bergerac. Visit the magnificent gardens of Marqueyssac or Eyrignac to enjoy the landscape of Dordogne. The charm of the bastides and the particular architecture of the old towns will fascinate you. Indeed the towns are planned orthogonally with streets at right angles and organised around a central lively area which often hosts markets and traditional festivals. Take the opportunity to make a leap back in history by discovering the famous prehistoric cave of Lascaux or the medieval castles of Beynac and Castelnaud. In the evening you can relax by canoeing on the Dordogne River.
Our tip: When in Dordogne, don’t miss the culinary markets of Sarlat, Périgueux or Bergerac.
Bordeaux celebrates wine
28th June to 1st July 2012
The Bordeaux Wine Festival is a major event which takes place every two years. Open to everyone, the Festival is held in the city centre of Bordeaux along a 2 km "wine route" on the banks of the quays. This event is all about learning and tasting wines and enjoying musical performances. Indeed, thanks to a "Tasting Pass" (from 15€), you will get access to the different stands where winegrowers are proud to present their wines.
At night, you can enjoy fireworks, concerts, sound and light show. If you wish to have an insight look at the wine estates, you can choose a "Vineyard Pass" (from 55€) that gives access to châteaux of famous appellations (Médoc, Saint-Emilion etc.). Several excursions are organized from Bordeaux with a bilingual guide.
Weekend des Grands Crus
12th May and 13th May 2012
The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is pleased to reconvene this exclusive weekend in the very heart of the prestigious Bordeaux appellations for every fine-wine passionate. It offers a unique occasion to taste under one roof over a hundred Grands Crus and to discover the exceptional 2009 vintage. And after the tasting, we suggest you to prolong the experience with prestigious dinners in wine châteaux and vineyard tours. www.ugcb.net
Marathon du Médoc
8th September 2012
Americans regard it as one of the 10 most beautiful marathons in the world. However, the Marathon du Médoc is certainly the 1st for its joviality and its party atmosphere. The crossing of villages and châteaux is achieved in a great hullabaloo with at least half of the competitors disguised. Wine-testing athletes and mille pâtes evenings mobilise all of Médoc.