Aquitaine - the South-West of France

France has many regions that are well known to travelers. I would like to share with you a lesser known region – Aquitaine, in the South-West of France, bordering with Spain in the South and the Atlantic Ocean on the west.

Let’s start with Biarritz, a resort town that used to attract the Royal circles and other celebrities, and is now attracting surfers from around the world. This is a beautiful town, right on the ocean, which still has remnants of its Royal past – for instance the Hotel du Palais, originally built as a palace for Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon the III. Take a stroll along the shore to the old harbor, or better yet take a guided tour with Biarritz by Locals, to learn about the past and present of this town. If you really want to treat yourself, have dinner at Villa Eugenie, at the Hotel du Palais, and enjoy a meal befitting royalty while viewing a gorgeous sunset.

While in this area, it would be a sin not to cross the border to Spain and visit the town of San Sebastian, known also by its Basque name – Donostia. It is only a 45 minutes’ drive from Biarritz, and it boasts to have one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – Concha beach. Take the funicular to Mount Igueldo, to have an outstanding view of the entire basin. San Sebastian is also the home of some gourmet restaurants. One which is a true culinary gem is Arzak, ranked number 8 on The World’s Best 50 restaurants.  


It is time to travel north along the coast. A two hours’ drive will get you to a town called Biscarosse. It has three distinct parts – one is Biscarosse Ville – the business center where you can find the museum of History and Traditions, which offers a nice boat ride to learn about the flora and fauna of the area. Another is Biscarosse Plage – right on the ocean, this part has beach front hotels and offers surfing opportunities. The third is Biscarosse Lac – a large lake that offers a variety of water sports.

Biscarosse is also a good base to explore the Arcachon basin. This includes Dune de Pyla, the largest dune in Europe – a natural phenomenon that started over 5,000 years ago, and the picturesque town of Arcachon that is known for its local oysters.

From Biscarosse, an hour’s drive north-east will get you to Bordeaux. This beautiful city, situated on the banks of the Garonne rive, is famous worldwide for the wines produced in the region bearing the same name. A “must” activity is a wine tasting tour in some of the many Chateaux in the vicinity of the city. Try Bordovino, which offers small group tours to either the Medoc area or to St. Emilion. You will learn about wine making in this region and get to taste some quality wines, all in an intimate setting.

While in Bordeaux, don’t forget to enjoy what the city has to offer. Stroll along the “Golden triangle” if you like shopping, or the old part of town where there are numerous wine shops, bars and restaurants. Pamper yourself at the wonderful spa of the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux, which has a rooftop bar with a great view of the surroundings.

This trip requires a week to do justice to all that the region has to offer. If we do it in the summer, the beach resorts get crowded in August as the French take their “vacance”, while Bordeaux is not as busy during this time