Aquitaine, an area once ruled by the Romans, is now a cluster of vibrant French departments bordered by quaint seaside towns and the Pyrenees Mountains. It would be worth the trip just for the exceptional cuisine, from the Sauternes wine in Saint-Émilion and the oysters in Arcachon Bay, to the fois gras in Landes and the ham in Bayonne. Even vegans will be spoiled for choice, seeing red in the cherry jams of Itsatsu and the peppers of Espelette, or black and white in the region’s finest truffles. But there’s more to Aquitaine & South-West France holidays than the food. Visit for the sea, lapping
against the carved coast of Biarritz and rippling gently in Arcachon Bay. Find a surfer’s paradise on the infinite sandy beaches of the Silver Coast and a hiker's holy place among the Pyrenees Mountians which are scattered in walking trails in the summer and skiing slopes in the winter. See the red and white villages of the Basque Country, and inhale the sweet scent of resin in the Landes forest. Most of all you’ll remember the people; whether it’s at the rugby, the ferias (traditional festivals), or simply the smiling locals.
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Aquitaine’s ample size makes it one of France’s most varied regions, simultaneously playing host to seaside, vineyards and countryside, as well as the Pyrenees Mountains. The cities of France’s southwest are brimming with foodie delights, fine wine and ancient history, each encased in bucolic vineyards or bordered by sandy beaches. Biarritz is the region’s seaside delight, acclaimed for its stunning beaches and exemplary surf spots. Its architecture exudes belle époque glamour and behind the art deco facades, you’ll find contemporary art galleries and boutique restaurants, which borrow Spanish culinary traditions by serving paella and pintxos (Basque tapas).
The medieval village of Saint-Émilion is another of Aquitaine’s best-kept secrets, prettily perched above lush UNESCO-listed vineyards, which are known for producing both full-bodied Bordeaux blends and sweeter Sauternes wine. The waterfront city of Bayonne is a maze of narrow medieval streets, punctuated by Gothic-style buildings, and is particularly famed for its chocolate. Once you’ve eaten your way through the foodie spots of South-West France, seek out the hiking trails that criss-cross their way through the Pyrenees, or visit in winter for world-class skiing.
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