villa is located in the beautiful green region of south
west France. This area (about 12% of France’s land
area), spans what is known as the Bassin Aquitaine (Aquitaine
Basin). It is embraced to the north by valley-crossed limestone
plateaus, to the north-east by the foothills of the Massif
Central and to the south by the Pyrenees. An extraordinary
diversity of landscapes is to be found here.
Some 230km of fine sandy Atlantic coastline (known as La
Cote d’Argent or The Silver Coast) stretches from
Pointe de Grave (100 km north of Bordeaux) almost to the
Spanish border. Here is Europe’s longest, highest
sand dune belt surmounted by the 114m high Dune du Pilat
and broken only by the Bassin d’Arcachon a 250 sq.km
and inland lies the 14000 sq.km plain of the Landes, a mix
of dunes, marshland and nearly a million hectares of pine
and oak plantation. It was established in the 19th century
to hold back the encroaching sand, and is Europe’s
largest cultivated forest.
the Landes’dunes lies a mosaic of of lakes and lagoons,
whose often-turbulent outlets to the sea provide locations
for some of the southwest’s finest watersports. The
lakes themselves offer calmer activities and havens for
one of France’s five major rivers – the 575km
long Garonne – rises in the Pyrenees and shapes 56000
sq.km of the southwest before emptying into the Atlantic
at Europe’s largest estuary – the Estuaire de
la Gironde. Garonne’s tributaries include some of
the country’s loveliest waterways: the Dordogne, Lot
and Tarn. Little wonder the Romans called this region Aquitania
(land of waters. An artificial waterway that has become
part of the landscape is the body comprising the Canal du
Midi and Canal Lateral a la Garonne.
most of France, the southwest has a temperate, Atlantic-influenced
climate. Rainfall is below the countrywide average, owing
to the influence of the Massif Central, and summers are
warmer and often punctuated by dramatic thunderstorms. The
hottest months are July and August with average daytime
temperatures of about 25 degrees centigrade.
temperatures drop to around 10 degrees centigrade in Decemer
and January. In the Haut Bern there’s enough snow
for skiers from December to March or April, though weather
in the foothills is quite mild – indeed, Pau is famed
for its year-round mild climate.
southwest is loved by French and foreigners alike for its
rural traditions and tranquillity. Many farms have been
lovingly restored by foreigners; ferme auberge (farm restaurants)
and tables d’hotes (meals in private houses)provide
income for small family farms. Large scale industry is mostly
limited to Bordeaux and Toulouse.
boar are on the increase due to deliverate restocking to
keep hunters happy. The Parc National des Pyrenees hosts
vultures and wild bears as well as thousands of lizards.
The lakes are havens for birdlife and waterfowl (as well
as deer, genets, terrapins and the rarely seen otter).
France isn’t just famous for its food and wine. Its
turbulent medieval history spurred the development of dozens
of planned, fortified towns known as bastides. Even today,
these are remarkable for the aesthetic appeal and fine design.
Southwest France also has many impressive fortified chateaux.
are more prehistoric decorated caves in Southwest France
than anywhere else in the world, over a hundred of them,
mostly concentrated in the Vezere and Lot Valleys. The extraordinary
paintings of horses and reindeer, buffalo, bison and mammoth
found in these caves date from between 35,000 and 10.000
are lots more, but it is probably more fun for you to discover
for yourself the caves, wine tasting, canoeing, etc.
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