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The Region

This large area of Southern France occupies a quarter of the gale-lashed Atlantic Coast of the country and offers large sandy beaches. It extends from the swamps of the MaraisPoitevin to the large pine forests of the country. Towards its centre lies the famous wine-growing area of Bordelais with its splendid castles. Most tourists are attracted by the beaches foamed around by waves. Whereas the inland has a lot to offer, too. Magnificent medieval buildings are lined along the pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostela, castles of all styles and dimensions characterize the wine-growing areas around Bordeaux. The afforestation of the 19th century was an ambitious project to turn to account this region made up of sandy and wet land. Plantations and meadows were created to stop the drifting sand dunes; in the hinterland the dunes were also “consolidated” by pines, reed and broom bush. In 1855 the swamps were drained.

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Culture & Sights

A rich architectural and cultural heritage stands evidence for the turbulent history of regions Poitou and Aquitaine, hotly embattled for centuries. The triumphal arch and the amphitheatre of Saintes are witnesses of the Roman influence. In the Middle Ages the pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostela led to the erection of massive Romanesque churches, as in Poitiers and Parthenay, but also of tiny chapels and touching frescoes. Today Poitiers is a flourishing commercial centre. The capital of the Départment Vienne is a modern town with a historic centre and rich architectural heritage. The pilgrim church Notre-Dame-la-Grande is well worth seeing. In the west of the Aquitaine lie the seaports La Rochelle and Rochefort. La Rochelle’s main attraction is the old port, today the biggest yachting port at the French coast of the Atlantic. Farther to the south, the famous wines of Bordelais and the brandies of Cognac make an essential contribution to the region’s earnings. The town of Bordeaux, flourishing since the time of the Romans, attracts tourists with elegant 18th century architecture and a lively culture scene. The promenades along the shores of the wealthy wine metropolis line edifices with elegant classicist façades.


The cuisine of South-West France has much variety. Oysters and mussels are served at the coast from Arcachon to Marennes in abundance, in the rural area around Bordeaux the same for wine, turning almost every local dish into a treat. The foiegras, for example, liver from stuffed geese or ducks, is served in port wine or brandy.

The Country and its People

Life is more relaxed at the coast than in the inland, they say. True? Indeed! Not only that holiday makers stroll around the streets in good mood, the locals harmonize well with the casual atmosphere of the coast blown around by the ocean-wind.