New Aquitaine is the largest French region, located in the southwestern part of the territory. It is characterized by a great variety of landscapes, from the valleys of the Dordogne to the beaches of the Landes and the Basque Country, the vineyards of Bordeaux and the mountain range of the Pyrenees. It is also home to a large number of historic cities and villages that take their place in the heart of a bewitching nature. Outdoor activities on the beach or in the mountains, gastronomy, vineyards, architectural heritage, there is no lack of activities in the New-Aquitaine region and its mild climate is a call to discover its treasures
The monolithic church of St. John, an incredible place of worship
Let's start this journey in New Aquitaine with the discovery of a place of worship that inevitably appeals to the curious. Located in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, the underground monolithic church of Saint-Jean was dug in the 12th century by Benedictine monks. In the early days, its function was that of sheltering relics which take place in a succession of pits as well as in an incredible reliquary whose shape is not without recalling that of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Over the centuries, many pilgrims on their way to Compostela have passed through it to collect themselves. The different elements that make up this rock church: the relic pit, the stone reliquary, the baptismal basin and the crypt are all reasons to visit and appreciate it
The Cordouan lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in France still in operation
In the category of architectural heritage, lighthouses exude this very singular atmosphere, a mixture of mystery and admiration. The Cordouan lighthouse is located in the open sea, at the entrance to the Gironde estuary, and is today the only lighthouse at sea still open to the public. Once you have made the boat crossing to get to its feet, you start by admiring its incredible architecture. Then, once inside, one of the keepers welcomes visitors to explain its history and give them time to admire the renaissance style of each floor. The highlight of the show is when you climb the 301 steps, the public then enjoys a superb panoramic view of the region, with the wild coast, the Pointe du Médoc, the Pointe de la Coubre and of course the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean in your sights. The lighthouse has been classified as a historical monument since 1862.
Collonges-la-Rouge, a Corrèze jewel
Nestled between walnut and chestnut trees, in a beautiful green environment, the village of Collonges-la-Rouge cannot leave anyone indifferent. You can admire the buildings whose red colour of the stones is so original and that is why it is called Collonges-la-Rouge. In this commune which benefits from the label "Plus beaux Villages de France", one takes pleasure in strolling through the medieval streets and discovering the richness of the heritage. The 11th century church, the 13th century chapel of the Black Penitents and its contemporary stained glass windows, the castle of Vassinhac, built in 1583, and the Mermaid's house which now houses a museum of art and popular traditions are all places to be admired in every detail
The castle of Boussac, an architectural marvel
Those who love castles will be delighted by a visit to the castle of Boussac, which is particularly impressive on its rocky spur. Its history is eventful, since after being built in the 12th century, it was destroyed during the Hundred Years' War, rebuilt and then damaged again during the Revolution. It subsequently held various positions, including those of sub-prefecture and gendarmerie, before being rescued from ruin in 1965 and restored with exquisite taste by the owners of today. When visiting its four floors, the public will discover a huge kitchen with rare utensils, incredible fireplaces, tapestries, paintings, wainscoting and furniture that contribute to making the place a must in Petite Creuse
A hike in the Marais Poitevin Regional Nature Park
Between land and sea, the Marais Poitevin Regional Nature Park is one of the largest marshes in Europe. Its cultural heritage, its fauna and flora are worthy of attention. You will discover landscapes shaped by Man for more than ten centuries, from the dried marshland to the Green Venice to be discovered from a boat and the Aiguillon Bay and its marine panoramas. During the walks, on foot or by bike, you must also take the time to open your eyes wide to try and catch a glimpse of the animals that populate the area. Fish, birds, dragonflies, butterflies, European otter and other green tree frogs take advantage of an exceptional natural setting to flourish
Sarlat, an exceptional Perigordian town
The town of Sarlat, capital of the Black Perigord, is a must for lovers of architecture and towns of character. The town developed around an important Benedictine abbey and after the Hundred Years War, it regained its golden age thanks to the presence of the nobility. From street to street, one can admire the incredible architecture of its buildings. Buildings with old facades and slate roofs, as well as the numerous shops installed in medieval houses contribute to its unique charm. The Saint-Sacerdos Cathedral and the Maison de la Boétie are among the monuments not to be missed under any circumstances
A visit to the Lascaux Cave
In 1940, in the middle of the Second World War, four teenagers make a major discovery in the Vézère valley. It was the Lascaux Cave, which contains splendid paintings dating from Prehistory, most of which depict animals. In 1948, the cave was opened to the public, but the influx of visitors caused irreversible damage and in order to protect this precious heritage, it was closed to the public in 1963. A reproduction of the place then opens in 1983, Lascaux 2, where one finds the same paintings made with the same techniques and the same pigments. In 2016, the International Centre for Parietal Art, Lascaux 4, was inaugurated. A visit to this place is moving and proves that art already existed in prehistoric times.
A tour of the Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux
During a jaunt in the Gironde capital, a passage through the Place de la Bourse allows you to contemplate a marvellous architectural ensemble consisting of the Hôtel des Fermes and the Hôtel de la Bourse, built in the 18th century. It is a square where the people of Bordeaux like to meet after work, especially on sunny days, and where visitors flock to admire the beauty of the monuments and their architectural details. There is also a superb bronze and marble fountain, the Three Graces, daughters of Zeus. It was inaugurated in 1869 to replace an equestrian statue of Louis XV, which was destroyed during the Revolution. Finally, the other curiosity is the impressive water mirror in which the façades are reflected and where people passing through and locals come to cool off in summer.
A moment of wine tourism at the Cité du Vin
Bordeaux and its region are famous throughout the world for its wine. It is to celebrate this rich heritage that the Cité du Vin opened in 2016, a museum dedicated to the famous beverage, its manufacture and its cultural, heritage, civilizational and universal dimensions. On arriving at the site, you first let yourself be seduced by its contemporary and original architecture, before entering and starting the visit through themed tours and temporary exhibitions. At a height of 35 m, the belvedere awaits visitors for a Bordeaux wine tasting, with a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings as a bonus
Oradour-sur-Glane, martyr village
The village of Oradour-sur-Glane was a peaceful town when on 10 June 1944 it met with horror when a unit of the SS Das Reich division killed the inhabitants and set the village on fire. Since that date, the village has been preserved as it was. His visit is an invitation to silence and contemplation as the ruins of the buildings are discovered. In the middle of the houses and places where people used to work, you can see car bodies, a sewing machine, some objects related to the trades that the inhabitants practiced in the village, as well as the posts and rails of the tramway
Going to the Landes to enjoy its beaches
The beaches of the Landes, wild, offer landscapes of fine sand bordering the Atlantic Ocean and where you can find dunes and superb pine forests where it is pleasant to walk or bike. The beaches of the Landes are a paradise for surfers, as the waters are often choppy. Hossegor or Biscarosse are the perfect seaside resorts to get out the boards and have fun in the waves. On the 106 km that make up the Landes coast, holidaymakers can also stop off at the beach of l'Estacade in Capbreton or at Remembre beach in Mimizan to simply spread out their towels and enjoy the sunshine and sweet moments with family or friends.
The castle of Bonaguil, treasure of Lot-et-Garonne
Situated on a rocky spur in the commune of Saint-Front-sur-Lémance, the castle of Bonaguil is a fortified castle as you can often see in school books. It was Lord Bérenger de Roquefeuil who made it a real fortress and during a visit, one discovers a monument of gigantic proportions and extremely well preserved. Through its drawbridge, its grotto or its keep, you can travel back in time to the heart of the medieval era. Various activities are offered throughout the year for young and old to discover its wonderful history and relive for a moment the time of armour and swords
A getaway in Biarritz and its great beach
In the Basque Country, Biarritz is a stage of character and when you go there, you should not miss the opportunity to spend time on its Grande Plage. This is the central beach, which extends over 450 m and runs along a beautiful promenade where you can observe the Palace of Biarritz. It's a postcard beach, with its superb colourful tents that can be rented in summer. There are also clubs where children can have fun and make friends, while adults can go surfing, with courses offered by different schools. In the surrounding area, cafes and restaurants are available for a drink and a bite to eat with a view
Enjoying Basque gastronomy in Bayonne
The Basque Country is famous for its gastronomy and it has been an integral part of its culture for centuries. During a trip to Bayonne and after walking along the rivers and getting lost in the old town and its colourful half-timbered houses, you should go to a bar in the evening for an aperitif. It's the perfect time to enjoy a sangria and nibble some tapas. Then, head to a restaurant to enjoy the local specialties. Basque toast, Basque chicken, raw ham salad, potato tortillas and other local cheeses delight the taste buds of gourmets who are discovering a region where eating and enjoying oneself is an art
A moment of religious architecture at the Abbey of Saint-Savin
We must first go back to the Carolingian period to understand the origins of the foundation of this splendid abbey located in the Vienne department. Alas, the convent buildings were destroyed by the wars of religion, but the Romanesque church has come down through the ages to reveal all its beauty, as has the monastic building which dates from 1680. Abbot's house, refectory, monastic garden, monks' cells, a visit is the opportunity to discover a peaceful place that invites to silence. It is also a unique experience, since the visit includes the discovery, particularly in the nave, of the largest group of mural paintings in Europe, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. The Abbey of Saint-Savin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.