Nouvelle Aquitaine France Travel Guide - A Vagabond Life
Nouvelle – Aquitaine France is a beautiful region of inland woods, villages and castles. Along its coast are famous seaside towns and surf beaches. It is made up of the previous regions of Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes.
Nouvelle Aquitaine France Table of Contents
Nouvelle Aquitaine France Map
Nouvelle Aquitaine France Travel Guide
Bordeaux on the Garonne River and is the capital of Nouvelle Aquitaine France. Over the centuries the Celts, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths and the Franks have all had influence on this area. Bordeaux came under English rule when Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henri Plantagenet who became King Henry II of England. In the 16th century the city became the center of the distribution of sugar and slaves from the West Indies along with the traditional wine. Bordeaux is classified a City of Art and History and is home to 362 historic monuments with some buildings dating back to roman times. Bordeaux has been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List as an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble.
Sarlat is a medieval town that developed around a large Benedictine abbey of Carolingian origin. Sarlat has remained beautifully preserved and is one of the town’s most representative of 14th century France. The centre of the old town consists of impeccably restored stone buildings and is largely car-free. Main sights are St Sacerdos Cathedral and the lovely Place de la Liberte which is surrounded by grand period homes. Don’t miss the famous Sarlat market held every Saturday and Wednesday morning.
The Dordogne Valley
The Dordogne Valley is named after the great river Dordogne that runs through it and roughly corresponds with the ancient county of Périgord. In addition to its castles, chateaux, churches, bastides and cave fortresses, the Périgord region has a number of wonderful preserved villages which still have their market halls, dovecotes, tories (stone huts), churches, abbeys and castles. Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere, Connezac, Saint-Jean-de-Côle, La Roque-Gageac and many others are real jewels of architecture.
Vezere Valley is home to pre-historic caves and grottes that play a significant role in the history of both the area and Cro-Magnon man – the first early modern humans who lived 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. The first sample of Cro-Magnon man was discovered in the town of Les Eyzies – de Taynac (or just Les Eyzies) in the heart of the Dordogne. There are hundreds of caves and grottes across the Dordogne region, the most important ones being Lascuax II and Font du Guame. The Vezere Valley is named for the Vezere River that runs through it.
Agen is on the banks of the Garonne River. The old centre of town contains a number of medieval buildings including the twelfth century Agen Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Caprasius which is one of the few large churches in France with a double nave. The Saint Hilaire church is notable for the statues Moses and St Peter in front of the left. The Musée des Beaux Arts, Fine Art Museum, contains artefacts, furniture and sculptures from prehistoric times onwards.
Bayonne sits at the meeting point of the Nive and Adour rivers. The area has been ruled by the Romans, the Vikings and the English before coming under French rule shortly after the 100 years war. The Nive river divides Bayonne into two quarters, Grand Bayonne and Petit Bayonne with both quarters still backed by Vauban’s walls. The houses lining the Nive are examples of Basque architecture, with half-timbering and shutters in the national colours of red and green. The Cathédrale Sainte-Marie is an imposing Gothic structure that was constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Bergerac dates from medieval times and has an interesting small old town and old Port, the Vieux Port. The Covered Market is a lovely 19th century building that has been restored. The square of Place de la Mirpes is surrounded by beautiful medieval half-timbered houses. Recollets Convent is converted convent built between the 12th and 17th centuries and used by the Recollects order of Franciscans later it was used as a Protestant temple. It is now the Wine museum of Bergerac.
Wines of the Bergerac Region
Wines of the Bergerac Region is situated on both sides of the Dordogne River and covers 13.000 hectares across 93 villages. The blend and the choice of the vine constitute the Bergerac wine’s prestige and bouquet. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec are used for the reds and Sauvignon, Sémillon, Muscadelle for the whites.
Biarritz is a luxurious seaside town that is popular with tourists and surfers that is on the Bay of Biscay, on the French Atlantic coast In the 12th century Biarritz was a whaling settlement from the twelfth century onwards, and in the 18th century became a popular beach for alleged cures for ailments.
St Emilion is a famous in the Nouvelle Aquitaine France wine growing area. The Romans planted vineyards in the area in the 2nd century. The town was named after the monk Emilion who settled in a hermitage carved in the rock there in the 8th century. The commercial wine production was started by the monks who followed him to the area. The town is a World Heritage site, with beautiful Romanesque churches and ruins stretching all along steep and narrow streets.
Périgueux is the capital of the Dordogne department and dates back to the Gaul’s and then the Romans. There is a lovely old town centre with the most notable sites being the amphitheatre, the remains of a temple to the Gallic goddess Vesunna, a Roman villa the Domus of Vesunna which is built around a garden courtyard surrounded by a colonnades. The cathedral of St Front was built after 1120 AD and restored in the 19th century.
Limoges is the regional capital of Limousin and the largest city in the region, It is art and history with a lovely old city centre, parts of which date back to medieval times. Limoges has been famous over the centuries for its fine porcelain. The most notable sights in Limoges are the Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges, the Crypt of Saint Martial from the 10th century, and two bridges of Saint Martial, dating from Roman times and of St-Etienne from the 13th century.
Bourganeuf is an attractive old town, founded in medieval times by the Knights of St John, who built a castle here. Notable sites are the church of St.Pierre, dating from the twelfth century, the church of St.Jean, dating from the fifteenth century and the remains of a 12th century castle. There is also a museum to electricity in the town.
Brive la Gaillarde
Brive la Gaillarde dates back to the 5th century and developed around the church of Saint-Martin-l’Espagnol. Walls were built around the city in the 12th century for defensive purposes and during the 100 years war a second wall was built. Brive was the regional centre of the resistance during WWII and was the first occupied town to liberate itself by its own means. Brive has a pleasant old centre.
Collonges la Rouge
Collonges la Rouge dates back to the 8th century and is made entirely from red-sandstone. The town has a number of historically significant buildings including the ancient court of the Châtellerie from the 16th century, the manoir de Vassinhac from the 14th and 16th centuries,and the 17th century marketplace. Collonges la Rouge is a Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. (Beautiful Village of France)
La Rochelle was founded during the 10th century and became an important harbour in the 12th century. La Rochelle came under English Plantagenet rule in 1152 until Louis VIII captured it in the 1224. The Knight Templars had a major presence in La Rochelle and based their main fleet in the port. During the 100 city years war the town was Protestant. La Rochelle’s best feature is the “Vieux Port” (“Old Harbour”), which is at the heart of the city and is very picturesque.
Saintes is on the Charente River and was once the capital of the Roman province of Aquitaine. Today the town it is most famous for the Roman triumphal arch the Arch of Germanicus and remains of the Roman amphitheatre. The historic Abbaye aux Dames is the largest example of Saintonge Romanesque architecture.
Oradour sur Glane
Oradour sur Glane the martyred village. In 1944, the German Waffen SS torched the village and massacred a large number of inhabitants in a mistaken act of reprisal. The village has been left as it was, fixed in time, as a memory to the brutality and horror of war.
Rochechouart is an the impressive castle, dating partly from the 13th century it houses administrative offices and an contemporary art gallery, as well as historic rooms and artifacts.
Turenne is a pretty hill top village dating from the 9th century. It is a Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. (Beautiful Village of France) and has an impressive castle.
Pau is a fortified town from the 11th century most noted for the Chateau de Pau which dominates the centre of the town. Alphonse de Lamartine was quoted as saying that: “Pau has the world’s most beautiful view of the earth”
World Destination Guide
There are 195 countries in the world stretching across seven continents – so there is an awful lot to see.Where to begin? Many people are inspired by a movie they have seen or a story they have heard, or a desire to see the land of their ancestors.
Use the drop-down on the right to explore the world.