Nouvelle Aquitaine | © Bert Schwarz 2023

First, something basic: Nouvelle Aquitaine (in southwestern France) is the name of the new region created by the territorial reform that took effect on January 1, 2016. The former administrative regions of Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes and Limousin were merged. The administrative center or its prefecture and capital is Bordeaux. It is also the seventh largest city in France with a population of approximately 850,000 inhabitants

Nouvelle Aquitaine is divided into 5 departments: Landes (40 - Mont-de-Marsan), Gironde (33 - Bordeaux), Dordogne (24 - Périgueux), Lot-et-Garonne (47 - Agen) and Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64 - Pau).

Les-Eyzies | © Bert Schwarz 2019

Due to its size, Aquitaine is a very diverse region. The northwest, which includes the departments of Dordogne and Lot et Garonne, consists of rolling hills with large vineyards in the low-lying areas, and woodlands and agriculture in the rolling northeast.

Aquitaine is a popular region for cycle tourism: two long-distance cycle routes, the Atlantic Cycle Route and the Atlantic-Mediterranean Cycle Route, cross the region. In Aquitaine, both run mostly on purpose-built, paved bike paths and are flat as they mostly follow the coast or rivers/canals.

The Dordogne region is famous for its rurality, its gentle valleys and villages that to outsiders seem to have fallen out of time. The area is also famous as one of the oldest known centers of human settlement in Europe, and many prehistoric sites are found around the area of Lascaux (remarkable caves, UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Les Eyzies. Within France, the Dordogne department is better known for its gastronomic specialties, truffles, foie gras, walnuts and other delicious delicacies, and is often referred to as "le Périgord".

Hendaye | © Bert Schwarz 2023

The southern part of Aquitaine is composed of two distinct areas, the departments of les Landes (40) and the Pyrénées Atlantiques (64). Les Landes is the most forested area in Europe; a low-lying area with sandy soil, almost the entire department is covered with pine forests interspersed with small areas of heath and farmland. The forests are popular with nature lovers, hikers and hunters, and support a significant timber industry. Outside of the few towns and seaside resorts, the department of les Landes, known until the 19th century as an inhospitable wasteland, is one of the most sparsely populated areas in France. It is also a department where almost a quarter of all dwellings are second homes. Les Landes is part of the historic territory of Gascony.

Pays Basque Übersichtskarte 23-0 | © Bert Schwarz 2023

Euskadi, the Basque Country is a region in the north of Spain and southwest of France, known for its green landscape, rugged coastline and rich culture. We travel to the Basque Country to discover the people, nature, art, history and of course the gastronomy of this unique area.

The first thing to know about the Basque Country is that it exists on both the French and Spanish sides. Our first journey begins in Bidart, a village between Biarritz and the border to Spain, in the Labourd region on the French side.
Bert Schwarz

Inspirations ... from Nouvelle Aquitaine