What is the Nouvelle-Aquitaine?

October 31, 2018  |  By Peg Kern
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What is the Nouvelle-Aquitaine?

The charming town of St. Emilion, visited on a food and wine vacation in BordeauxThe Nouvelle-Aquitaine is a new region of France that emerged with the re-drawing of France’s administrative regions that occurred in 2016. The region is one of the largest and includes the former regions of Aquitaine, Limousin, and Poitou-Charentes.

We’re participating in a yearly event focused on tourism in France and are reminded of the many great destinations that France has, and one of them is certainly the Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Think of Bordeaux, St. Emilion, the Dorgogne Valley, Cognac, Médoc, Biarritz, the Basque Country…. As you can tell, it’s not only a fabulous region, it’s full of great gastronomy!

Bordeaux's water mirror, visited on a cooking vacation in FranceThe Nouvelle-Aquitaine is easy to get to – whether you are flying to Bordeaux or taking a train (just 2 hours from Paris). Bordeaux is the most famous city of the region, and it offers many spectacular things to see, including:

  • UNESCO world heritage city center full of 18th-century white stone buildings
  • Art Museums (a new one focused on the sea will open next year)
  • The Water Mirror – the world’s largest reflecting pool and one of the emblems of the city
  • La Cité du Vin, which opened in 2016 and is dedicated to both French and world wines
  • Les Halles de Bacalan – a covered market that opened last year and is located across from the Cité du Vin

And that is before you even exit the city!

A fishing hut known as a carrelet, seen on a culinary tour of Southern FranceOnce you get out into the surrounding areas, you can experience even more of the region’s fabulous sites and gastronomy, including:

  • Cognac & Armagnac – home to France’s most famous “eau de vie,” Cognac also now boasts a new 5* luxury hotel that just opened
  • Médoc – one of the most known wine destinations in France
  • St. Emilion – another of France’s wine destinations, and a beautiful UNESCO village
  • Graves & Sauternes – another famous wine producing area
  • Arcachon – the bay most known for its oysters and dunes

Nearer to Spain you will find also the Pau-Pyrenees, a spectacular mountainous area, as well as one of our favorites, Biarritz and the Basque Country. Biarritz is a vibrant and exciting ocean-front town, and the Basque Country’s cuisine borrows from that of the nearby Spanish Basque Country as well.

The Cordouan lighthouse, visited on a culinary tour of Southern FranceOne part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine that was less known to me is the Médoc Atlantique. This area lies west of Bordeaux and boasts chateaux, wineries, beautiful nature, and the ocean. Its coast is considered among the best in the world for surfing (which less face it, I don’t do, but still, cool!). It also has a famous lighthouse – Cordouan – which was built between 1584 and 1611 and was designed by famed architect Louis de Foix. It lies at the mouth of the estuary, is the oldest lighthouse in France. and is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, combining aspects of a royal palace, a fort, and a cathedral. The coast of the Médoc Atlantique is peppered with elevated fisherman’s huts (called carrelets), and the estuary’s tides make it an ideal spot for seafood such as oysters and mussels.

If you head in the other direction? You reach the Dordogne Valley, equally famous as a gastronomic area. There you find picturesque villages, rivers, the Lascaux caves, and of course fabulous food including truffles and foie gras.

Duck breast and sauce on a foodie tourIf you’d like to explore the Nouvelle-Aquitaine, we have a number of fabulous itineraries including:

But we’re also happy to design a custom made itinerary tailored to your tastes – just contact us to get started!

By Peg Kern

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