• Between the plains of Armagnac and the mountain peaks in the Basque country, the sand dunes along the Atlantic coast and the fields of the Périgord, the region is a successful blend of types, a beautiful series of contrasts. From the huge pine forests of the Landes to the bassin d'Arcachon and the Gironde estuary, the ocean's influence is everywhere. Other regions too contribute their specific features: l'Entre-deux-Mers, the Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion, and the Périgord "four" (green, white, purple around Bergerac, and black around Sarlat-la-Canéda), which make up department Dordogne. In these totally natural valleys, especially Vèzère valley, the major prehistoric sites Eyzies (Cro-Magnon man) and Lascaux (the cave paintings) in particular will inspire walkers to explore.
Gastronomy and local produce
• On the banks of the river Garonne (between the prestigious Sauternes and the Graves in the Entre-deux-Mers region), Saint-Emilion and Médoc (between the estuary and the ocean), the Bordeaux vineyards display their highlights of wine tourism. But Aquitaine also includes Monbazillac (in the south of the Périgord) and Jurançon (Béarn). As for good food, produce from Basque country (Espelette pepper AOP, Bayonne cured ham) Périgord (walnuts and black truffles) is the best of what the land has to offer, and is much prized by connoisseurs.
• There is a great time in store for Epicurean hikers in the Pays des Bastides of the Périgourd region and in the mountains of the Basque country, where the beech forests of Iraty are famous throughout Europe. The mountain paths follow the summer pasture slopes, around the Pic du Midi d'Ossau or in the Soule valley. There you can see the "cayolars" (sheepfolds high up in the mountains) and the flocks of sheep... with griffon vultures circling overhead: these mountains have remained well preserved and intact.
• There is plenty of scope for cycling escapades in the region. A pioneer of the "green route" style, Aquitaine is especially well known for the Roger Lapébie path, also known as the Entre-deux-Mers, http://creonstationvelos.free.fr/ to the southeast of Bordeaux, which leads to Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. There are lots more wonderful things to see between the coast and the forest, on the paths of the workers who extracted the resin from the pine trees. These paths have been converted into cycle paths: a network of hundreds of kilometres between Médoc and the Basque country, via Lacanau, Arcachon, Biscarosse, etc.
• The Dordogne is navigable (it was the scene of a famous French television series) and is great for a mini-cruise in a gabare (a large wooden sailing boat), for example, at the foot of the castles of Beynac and Castelnaud, towards la Roque-Gageac. And river boating shows all its finery along the canal d'Entre-deux-Mers, which runs along the Garonne, between Bordeaux and Agen, encouraging tourists to venture even further along the water...