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Aquitaine: medieval villages, rural landscapes and fine wines

This article is also available in: Italian

Aquitaine (Aquitaine) is a historical region of south-western France, in the Middle Ages it was a duchy that was part of the possessions of the English crown.

The region is administratively made up of 5 departments: Dordogne (24), Gironde (33), Landes (40), Lot-et-Garonne (47), Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64), the regional capital and largest and most important city is Bordeaux.

Aquitania borders Spain to the south, while to the west it is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the coast is generally low and marshy, to the extreme north it is characterized by the deep estuary of the Gironde, formed by the Garonne and Dordogne rivers.

The territory of the region is almost exclusively flat and is crossed by the rivers Garonne, Dordogne and Adour, hilly areas are found only in the north-east in correspondence of Périgord, while along the border with Spain, in the extreme south, there is the chain of the Pyrenees with the highest mountains in the region, which reach their maximum height with the Pic Palas (2,974 metres).

Much of the region is covered by forests (forêt des Landes), agriculture is highly developed, in particular the wines produced in the Bordeaux area (Vignoble de Bordeaux) and in the southern area around Pau and Oloron ( Jurançon), but vegetables, fruit and cereals are also produced, famous are the plums produced in the Agen area (pruneau d’Agen), the breeding is practiced in the Pyrenean area and in the hills of the north-east.


Tourism in Aquitaine boasts numerous attractions, there are seaside resorts such as Biarritz, Hendaye, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Capbreton, Lacanau, Soulac and Arcachon, beautiful medieval villages, surrounded by vineyards, such as those of Saint-Émilion, the whose jurisdiction has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the south of the region there are charming Basque villages and towns such as Bayonne, Saint-Jean de Luz, Saint-Jean Pied de Port, Ainhoa.

The historic center of the most important city, Bordeaux (Port de la Lune), is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as are the nearby citadel and fort Paté in Médoc de Blaye/Cussac-Fort-Médoc, part of part of Vauban’s fortifications.

Other attractions are the beautiful rural landscapes of the Dordogne (Dordogne) with the centers and villages of Périgueux, Brantôme, Domme, Monpazier, and the medieval jewel of Sarlat-la-Canéda, the setting for numerous films set in the Middle Ages. The many castles of the Dordogne such as those of Castelnaud, Milandes, and Beynac.

Also in the Dordogne are the famous Lascaux caves, rich in prehistoric frescoes, these caves have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, together with 25 other decorated caves and 147 prehistoric sites in the Vézère valley in the Dordogne department (Dordogne ).

The region has eleven thermal spas, the most important being those of Dax and Saint-Paul-lès-Dax. Among the natural attractions, we find places such as the Dune du Pilat, with the highest dunes in Europe, and the nearby Cap Ferret; the peaks of the Pyrenees with the Pyrénées National Park; the vineyard landscapes around Bordeaux, such as those of the Médoc, the Graves, the Sauternais, Entre-deux-Mers, the Libournais and Blayais et le Bourgeais.

UNESCO has listed, between the sites included in the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in France (Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle en France), the Saint-Front cathedral in Périgueux, the church of Saint-Avit in Saint-Avit-Sénieur, the abbey-church of Notre-Dame de la Nativité in Le Buisson-de-Cadouin, the ancient cathedral of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Bazas, the basilicas of Saint-Seurin, Saint-Michel and the cathedral of Saint-André in Bordeaux, the ancient abbey of Notre-Dame de la Sauve Majeure and the church of Saint-Pierre in La Sauve, the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Fin-des-Terres in Soulac -sur-Mer, the church of Sainte-Quitterie in Aire-sur-l’Adour, the abbey of Saint-Jean in Sorde-l’Abbaye, the abbey of Saint-Sever, the cathedral of Saint Caprais in Agen, the Sainte-Marie cathedral in Bayonne, the Saint-Blaise church in L’Hôpital-Saint-Blaise, the Sainte Marie church in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, the Porte Saint Jacques in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and the clocher-porche of the ancient church of Mimizan.

Naturally, the food and wine attractions should not be underestimated, such as the excellent wines, Aquitaine is the first wine region of France, but also the first producer of the famous Foie Gras (duck or goose liver), renowned are the plums produced in the area of Agen (pruneau d’Agen).

The climate of Aquitaine.

Area: 41,309 km²
Population: 3,150,890 (2008)
Capital: Bordeaux


This article is also available in: Italian


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