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Nouvelle-Aquitaine is France's most extensive administrative region, formed in 2014 by merging Aquitaine, Limousin, and Poitou-Charentes. With an area exceeding 84,000 square kilometers and a population of over 6 million, it became official on January 1, 2016. The Nouvelle-Aquitaine region shares borders with Pays de la Loire to the northwest, Centre-Val de Loire to the north, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to the east, Occitanie to the southeast, and Spain to the south. Geographically, it encompasses a significant portion of the Aquitaine Basin and a smaller section of the Paris Basin. Additionally, it includes the Limousin plateau, part of the Massif Central, and the western segment of the Pyrenees chain. Bordeaux, its capital and largest city, anchors the region's metropolitan area. Furthermore, Nouvelle-Aquitaine houses 25 urban centers, including the cities of Bayonne, Limoges, and Poitiers.[4] In terms of local historical heritage, the Vézère Valley is known for its 147 prehistoric sites dating back to the Palaeolithic era, including 25 decorated caves. Notably, the Lascaux Cave, discovered in 1940, holds considerable importance in the history of prehistoric art. Its cave paintings depict around 100 animal figures, known for their colors, details, and lifelike quality.[10] Concerning tourist attractions, one of the predominant destinations in the region is Bordeaux, known for its historical center and the port, which is in today's time protected by UNESCO.[8] Moreover, the Bordeaux area is globally known for its wine production.[7]

What Nouvelle-Aquitaine is known for

Bordeaux, a city of historical significance, provides a considerable collection of landmarks attracting a number of tourists. Encircled by boulevards and suburbs, the Garonne River separates the main city from La Bastide. The Grand Théâtre stands as a testament to architectural heritage, showcasing a statue-topped colonnade and double stairway. Nearby, the expansive Esplanade des Quinconces houses monuments that intend to honor historical figures, such as the Girondins and Montaigne. Ecclesiastical landmarks such as the Pey-Berland bell tower and the Saint-Michel Tower are among the local historical monuments as well. Bordeaux's historic center reveals glimpses of the city's past, from the remnants of old city walls to the ruins of a Roman amphitheater. Beyond its architectural areas, Bordeaux's allure extends to its wine culture. The city's wine-growing and trading houses, steeped in centuries of tradition, offer tasting experiences for guests. Visitors can explore vineyards, sample wines, and learn about the craftsmanship behind each bottle. In essence, Bordeaux's attractions combine a mix of history, culture, and gastronomy.[7] The Port of the Moon, situated in Bordeaux, France, is known for its historic significance and architecture. Dating back to the Enlightenment era and continuing into the 20th century, it showcases an urban landscape with a number of protected buildings, second only to Paris in France. Over the course of its 2,000-year history, Bordeaux has served as a hub of cultural exchange, particularly evident since the 12th century through its commercial ties with Britain and the Low Lands. Thus, the area is now protected by UNESCO.[8]

Extending across Haute-Vienne and Dordogne, the Périgord-Limousin Regional Nature Park makes an effort to preserve the natural, cultural, and architectural heritage of the area. Its landscapes, ranging from rivers and limestone plateaus to forests and peat bogs, provide habitats for an array of wildlife, including Eurasian hoopoes, hen harriers, and peregrine falcons. One can explore the park's network of hiking trails, covering nearly 2,000 kilometers, some themed around topics such as honey plants or members of the rose family. In Haute-Vienne, the park also showcases built heritage, featuring castles of Châlus, Brie, and Montbrun, along with the medieval town of Rochechouart, known for its castle and the meteorite crater formed over 200 million years ago.[9]

Another attraction to the area is Vézère Valley, located in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in the Department of the Dordogne. The Vézère Valley is known for its prehistoric heritage, with over 150 Paleolithic sites and about thirty caves featuring ancient art. This region, spanning approximately 30 by 40 kilometers, holds value in terms of ethnology, anthropology, and aesthetics due to its cave paintings—notably those found in the Lascaux Cave, discovered in 1940. These sites offer insights into the prehistoric civilizations of the European quaternary period. Comprising 15 prehistoric sites, including decorated caves, burial sites, workshops, and hunting scenes, the valley provides evidence of Paleolithic habitation and cultural activity. Additionally, its archaeological potential is substantial, as evidenced by ongoing discoveries through preventive excavations conducted since its inscription on the World Heritage List.[10]


Nouvelle-Aquitaine showcases diverse geographical features, encompassing the Aquitaine Basin, the Paris Basin, the Limousin Plateau, and the western Pyrenees. It is situated within five watersheds facing the Atlantic Ocean, characterized by rivers including the Loire, Charente, Garonne, Dordogne, and Adour, which irrigate lands primarily dedicated to viticulture and agriculture. The region's coastline along the Atlantic Ocean includes the Dune of Pilat, Europe's tallest dune, and stretches from Aiguillon Bay to the Bidasoa estuary, encompassing islands of Ré, Oléron, Aix, and Madame. The closer one gets to the inland region, the topography begins to transition into dunes, lakes, and wetlands, dominated by the Landes forest, Europe's largest artificial forest—covering nearly one million hectares. The mountainous southern region, featuring the Pyrenees, includes peaks of Pic du Midi d'Ossau and Pic Palas. Rivers such as the Gave de Pau and Gave d'Ossau traverse this area, contributing to its biodiversity. Further north, the terrain includes plateaus, valleys, and forests, with notable regions including Limousin, characterized by oak and chestnut forests, and Périgord, known for its afforestation and diverse agricultural landscapes. The Gironde estuary, the largest in Western Europe, represents a considerable ecosystem supporting vineyards and marshlands. Towards the eastern part of Nouvelle-Aquitaine lies Guyenne, known for its agriculture, including the production of prunes, tobacco, and Armagnac. The region's southernmost territories, Basque Country and Béarn, showcase distinct landscapes, from coastal resorts to rural valleys and ski resorts in the Pyrenees.[4]

South Gironde region offers a getaway into landscapes of vineyards, forests, and waterways. It hosts the Landes de Gascogne Regional Nature Park, Europe's largest forest covering over 50 municipalities. Nature enthusiasts can explore areas such as the lakes of Hostens and the Lagoons of Gât Mort—home to diverse biodiversity, including carnivorous plants. The region's natural elements also influence its Sauternes wines, with the Ciron River contributing to the Botrytis cinerea fungus that reportedly enhances the grapes' flavor. Lakes of Lamothe, Taste, La Prade, Castagnet, and Sigalens offer opportunities for various activities such as swimming, fishing, hiking, and wildlife observation. Visitors can also explore the Garonne River, showcasing fishing huts that tend to be frequented by purple herons. The river's mascaret, a sizable wave, can draw those who enjoy water sports year-round. Additionally, the UNESCO-listed Canal des Deux Mers provides a route for walking and cycling, offering glimpses of barge traffic at canal locks.[5]

Bordeaux typically has an oceanic climate, as its summer rainfall prevents it from being classified as Mediterranean. Summers tend to be warm and lengthy due to the influence of the Bay of Biscay. The average winter temperature is around 6.5°C, though recent winters have reportedly been milder. Conversely, summers see average temperatures of about 19.5°C. Summer spans roughly from June to September, with August being the warmest month, as the average maximum temperature reaches 29°C. February is most commonly deemed the coldest month, with an average maximum temperature of 12°C. Concerning the amount of precipitation that the area receives, November usually receives the most rainfall, with an average of 85 millimeters, while July is the driest month, with 51 millimeters of precipitation.[6]


The region of Aquitaine has an ancient history, with evidence of human settlement dating back to prehistoric times. The area was inhabited by the Aquitani, who spoke a language similar to Basque. Roman rule expanded Aquitania to include regions north of the Loire River. During the Early Middle Ages, the Visigoths and then the Franks exerted influence over the region, with the latter establishing their rule after defeating the Visigoths. The ethnic makeup included Gallo-Romans north of the Garonne River and Basques to the south. The Kingdom of Aquitaine saw conflicts between Carolingian rulers and lords, with intermittent periods of independence. Following the Treaty of Verdun in 843, Aquitaine became part of West Francia and later merged with Gascony under the rule of William VIII.[1]

After the death of the last duke, William X, Aquitaine was united with the Kingdom of France through the marriage of his daughter, Eleanor, to Louis VII. Following their divorce, Eleanor married Henry Plantagenet, who became King Henry II of England. Aquitaine then passed to Henry and later to his son Richard the Lion-Heart. After Richard's death, Aquitaine returned to Eleanor and subsequently became part of the English crown. Under English rule, Aquitaine extended from the Loire to the Pyrenees but was limited in the southeast by the lands of the Counts of Toulouse. The region eventually became known as Guyenne. During the Hundred Years' War, Aquitaine and its neighboring regions were reunited with France by the mid-15th century. During the French Revolution, Aquitaine was divided into smaller départements.[2]

Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, as we know it today, was formed in 2016 by merging the former regions of Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes, and Limousin. It is the largest of France’s 13 metropolitan regions and is bordered by Pays de la Loire, Centre, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, and Occitanie. To the south, it shares a border with Spain and is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean along the Bay of Biscay to the west. Bordeaux serves as its capital.[3]

Top Bed and Breakfasts in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

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La Borie Grande

Villefranche-du-Périgord, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
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Top 10 Bed and Breakfasts in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

La Borie Grande

Villefranche-du-Périgord, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
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