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Top 10 Reasons to Visit South West France

Apr 22, 2014

We specialise in offering exceptional villas, country houses and chateaux exclusively in South West France, Provence and the Côte d’Azur because these regions offer the most reliably warm, sunny weather and a fantastic variety of things to see and do – besides simply relaxing by the pool! Foodies, history buffs, beach lovers, hikers and cyclists will all love South West France and here are our top 10 highlights:

  • 1. The Dordogne. For many Francophiles, this ‘département’ IS what South West France is all about – a region of meandering river valleys, idyllic honey coloured towns, castles clinging to limestone crags and gourmet food. In the picturesque region of the Perigord Vert, Brantôme is known as the ‘Venice of the Dordogne’, being encircled and bisected by the River Dronne. The fabulously transformed farmhouse of La Valade is only 35 minutes from Brantôme and 45 minutes from Perigeux and Limoges, one of the porcelain capitals of the world.
  • 2. World wine capital. For wine connoisseurs and casual quaffers ‘Bordeaux’ is synonymous with quality being the oldest and largest fine wine region in the world, covering 115,000 hectares of vineyards and 60 appellations. Our favourite vineyards include the Medoc, Graves, Sauternes, Barsac, Pomerol, St Emilion and Cahors, with tours, on-the-spot tastings and purchases widely available. Our very own, Le Moulin St Sulpice also has its own small vineyard producing very drinkable reds which are available for guests.
  • 3. Food glorious food. Rich confit de canard, the famous paté de foie gras, a hearty cassoulet, tangy Roquefort cheese, Arcachon oysters and sweet plums in Armagnac are just a few of the reasons why the South West is a foodies’ paradise. Markets are piled high with a mouth-watering array of local delicacies and one of the best takes place in the film-set like medieval town of Sarlat, which is just 3 miles from our fine 18th century farmhouse, Le Bournaguet.
  • 4. La Ville Rosé. Toulouse is also known as ‘The Pink City’ because of the colour of the well-preserved historic buildings, which makes exploring the Old Town such a delight. Visit one of the many art galleries or museums, cruise on the Canal du Midi and take a tour of the fascinating Airbus factory near Toulouse airport. Our stunning French manor house, La Bourdette is only 45 minutes drive from Toulouse.
  • 5. Scenic rivers. South West France is criss-crossed with meandering rivers including the Dordogne, Dronne, Vienne, Vézère and the 3 major rivers of the Garonne, the Lot and the Tarn. Admire the scenery on a traditional ‘Gabarre’ boat trip between charming riverside towns, take to the water hiring a canoe or kayak, enjoy a spot of fly fishing or simply pack a picnic for a day on one of the numerous river beaches. Our 19th century château, Le Buzard, is situated between the Dordogne, the Garonne and the Lot rivers where excellent canoeing trips can be arranged for all ages.
  • 6. Bordeaux. Officially classed as a ‘City of Art of History’ and described in the UNESCO World Heritage list as ‘an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble’, only Paris has more historic monuments than Bordeaux, from Roman and medieval times to the elegance of the 18th century. Admire the grandeur of the Esplanade des Quinconces, the largest square in Europe, see the many fine art masterpieces in the Musée des Beaux Arts and enjoy a night at the opera in the Grand Théatre de Bordeaux.
  • Pau - Credit Jibi44 - Wikipedia7. Pau.  In the foothills of the Pyrénées, the spa town of Pau has an intriguing heritage thanks to French and English claims to fame. The Château de Pau was the birthplace of the 16th century French King, Henry IV and later both Marie Antoinette and Napolean were regular visitors. In the 19th century the Duke of Wellington stationed a garrison here and Pau became a retreat for expat Victorians and Edwardians, boasting the first 18-hole golf course in continental Europe and the ‘Pau Hunt’, which hosted both Winston Churchill and King Edward VII. Photo credit Jibi44 under Creative Commons ShareAlike licence
  • 8. Châteaux and Bastides. South West France is strewn with fabulous historic monuments including magnificent châteaux and gardens, such as Monbazillac, Castelnaud and Millandes. Throughout the region, hundreds of hilltops are also crowned with beautifully preserved fortified villages, called ‘bastides’, from the turbulent times of the Hundred Years’ War. Our very own Château Marcoux has been transformed from a 12th century hill top fortress into a stunning and luxurious holiday Manor House with panoramic views on all sides.
  • 9. The Pyrénées. From wooded foothills to soaring, rugged peaks, the Pyrénées is a natural adventure playground of breathtaking hiking trails, challenging climbing and winter ski-ing (in the principality of Andorra and elsewhere). The landscape is also home to some of Europe’s rarest animals and birds including the brown bear, lynx, genet (a relation of the mongoose), izard (Pyrenean chamois), lammergeier (bearded vulture) and eagle owl. Days out in the Pyrénées are among the highlights when staying at Château de Baradot
  • 10. Atlantic coast. Sweeping 250kms, from the mouth of the Gironde to the popular Victorian resort of Biarritz, the Côte d’Argent is the longest, sandiest, arrow-straight stretch of coastline in Europe. The Landes is renowned for miles of deserted beaches backed by pine forests; the incredible Dune du Pyla is the highest sand dune in Europe; and world class surfing has established the reputation as France’s ‘California coast’.