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Aquitaine with its 5 departments; Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

Weather: There are two separate climates in Aquitaine. The coast is mild, with the Gulf stream to keep it warm. Inland the weather is a touch more extreme and variable, with short winters than can get very cold (lows of about -14°C), scorching heat-waves in summer and enough rain to keep the countryside lush and green. Generally, though, the summers in Aquitaine are reliably warm and sunny.

The Region: This huge and diverse region has a wealth of very different sights, cultures and cuisines to explore. There is plenty of variety to keep you occupied; from the rolling hills, medieval châteaux, prehistoric caves and rivers of the Dordogne, to the pine-covered sandy terrain of the Landes - the largest forest in Europe - and the endless stretch of sandy beach and dramatic sea which goes all the way down the Atlantic side of this region, down to the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. There is some great skiing to be had in the pyrenees during the winter, however this remote area is also beautiful to explore in summer.

Bordeaux is the capital of Aquitaine, and is a cosmopolitan and lively city, with majestic old buildings and glamorous shops. It has been an important town for centuries, and played a significant role in the Napoleonic wars, when cannons were shipped from forges all over the region, down the rivers to Bordeaux, where the battle ships were waiting to go to war.

The surrounding Area, and all the way back along the Dordogne river, is covered in vineyards. A trip to Bordeaux is not complete without a wine tasting at one of the famous chateaux, but this whole region is splattered with important wine regions, and the smaller ones, like the dessert wine of Monbazillac near Bergerac, should not be overlooked.

Further south, the beaches near Biarritz are the home of World-class surfing contests, which are incredible to watch, or head in land for more rural adventures.

Gastronomy: Aquitaine is extremely rich in gastronomic tradition. Oysters and other seafood are everywhere you look on the coast, while other areas such as Périgord, are famous for foie gras, duck, confit, walnuts and walnut oil, and the famous Périgordian black truffle. Fresh water fish and wild game (deer, wild boar and birds) are also important features of this region’s culinary landscape, along with little soft goat cheeses (cabécou) in the north and the hard mountain cheeses and Basque crème brulée of the Pyrenees. Everything is always washed down with plenty of local red wine.

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