Aquitaine On a BudgetAquitaine, also known as "Guyenne" or "Guienne," is a province of south-west France with a stretch of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and a mountainous border to the south with Spain. The province covers an extensive area encompassing anything from coastline to countryside, small villages to thriving cities, and expansive vineyards to age-old castles.
SightsGironde: Located within this region is the capital city of Bordeaux, a historic city with a number of tourist attractions. Situated on the shores of the Garonne River, the city can be viewed from the Pont de Pierre, a beautiful brick-built bridge with seventeen arches. Other attractions include museums, churches, the public gardens, and Saint Emilion - an UNESCO historic village and vineyards to the east. The Medoc wine region is also located to the east, while coastal resorts like Arcachon and Lacanau lie to the west.
Landes: Situated on coastal Aquitaine, Landes is characterized mostly by long sandy beaches and seaside resorts like Biscarrosse, Capbreton, Hossegor and Mimizan. Behind the beaches there is also a large forested area, one of the largest in Europe, planted by Napoleon III to reclaim the mosquito infested swamp area.
Pyrenees-Atlantiques: In south-western Aquitaine, this region is an area that has both beaches and mountain villages. Biarritz is an especially lively resort town on the Atlantic with plenty of opportunity to explore the charm and history of its coastal location. The region is also known for traditional Basque villages like Sare, Ainhoa, La Bastide-Clairence, Espelette, and Itxassou. Closer to the mountains are also Cambo-les-Bains, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Salies-de-Bearn and Sauveterre-de-Bearn, and Pau.
Dordogne: Located in north-eastern Aquitaine, Dordogne is full of variety with medieval villages and castles, the countryside of hills and forests and farms, prehistoric sites, and theDordogne and Vezere rivers. Some popular towns include Sarlat with easy access to castles and villages, Montignac near prehistoric caves, and many others.
Lot-et-Garone: In eastern Aquitaine, this region has many picturesque villages such as Monflanquin and Villereal, castles like the impressive ruins of the Chateau de Bonaguil, and rolling forested hills. The area is characterized by quiet scenic roads and traditional market towns.
RegionsThe province is generally divided into five regions or "departments," which include Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, and Pyrenees-Atlantiques. Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne make up the northeast corner of the province - mostly beautiful, green countryside often visited for the history with a number of castles and medieval villages. Gironde, Landes, and Pyrenees-Atlantiques line the west coast, best known for beaches, surfing, and summer resorts. Landes is also characterized by its extensive forests, while Pyrenees-Atlantiques is known for its many Basque villages in the southern part of Aquitaine. Gironde is centered on the province’s capital city, Bordeaux. Other cities include Bayonne, Pau, Perigueux, Mont-De-Marsan, and Agen.
ActivitiesSince the province of Aquitaine is so extensive and varied, activities can range from beachside fun with swimming and surfing, exploring the countryside and its vineyards, sightseeing historic destinations like villages and castles, enjoying cycling and walking amidst the beautiful scenery, and so much more.
Food and DiningAs far as cuisine goes, the province of Aquitaine offers a range of specialties from the coast as well as inland. Closer to the ocean, especially in Basque Country, fresh fish and shellfish are common and often rubbed with a kind of pepper. All throughout the region, ham is also popular year-round as is foie gras, a luxury food usually made of duck or goose liver. Inland, hunting and fishing is popular with the migrating wood pigeon sought after in the Pyrenees, while freshwater fish are often pulled from local streams. Other regional specialties include confit d'oie aux cèpes (goose confit with ceps), confit de canard (duck confit), garbure (a type of vegetable soup), salade landaise (salad with duck meat and gizzards), peanut oil, pralines de Blaye (almond candies), gratin de poires au Sauternes (pear dessert), cannele (mini-cakes from Bordeaux), and macaroons from Saint Emilion. The wines and cheeses of course cannot be missed , with a wide variety available especially around Bordeaux. The cities will have plenty of dining options with all of the local specialties as well as international flavors. Rue de Saint Remi, in Bordeaux, is known as the restaurant street.
TransportationThe main airport serving the region is Bordeaux-Merignac Airport, just west of the city Bordeaux. It is a regional airport which serves mostly domestic flights, though there are international flights as well connecting Bordeaux to some European hubs like Paris (Orly and Roissy), London (Gatwick and Luton), Madrid, and Amsterdam.
Bayonne, in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques department, also has an airport - Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne International Airport, about 4 kilometers from the city center. It offers direct flights to and from Paris (Orly and Charles de Gaulle with Air France), Lyon (Air France), London (Stansted with Ryanair), Dublin (Ryanair), and Shannon (Ryanair).
There are also a number of other regional airports as well as transportation by train, bus, and taxi.