France • Paris • Provence • Normandy • Bordeaux • Burgundy • Riviera
& Cote D'Azur
Tours & Day Trips | Group
Tours | Women's
Tours | Shore
Trips / Shore Excursions
Southwestern France, a loosely defined area
spanning Aquitaine & Midi-Pyrenees, has something
to offer for everyone, from castle wineries to
Catholic pilgrimage sites. The fertile region
produces a variety of fine cuisine, from the
renowned beef of Limousin to the many fine Bordeaux
wines, including the classic Sauternes. Aquitaine,
which encompasses the Basque region of France,
has its own unique culinary traditions, featuring fruits
de mer such as stuffed baby squid.
One of the highlights of Aquitaine is Bordeaux
itself, a historic port-of-call and university
town situated in the heart of the region’s wine-and-castle
country. From Bordeaux you can take a host
of fascinating day trips into the countryside.
Many visitors make a trip to Les Eyzies de Tayac,
where France’s prehistoric ancestors made their
home some 40,000 years ago. Located in the Vezere
Valley, Les Eyzies is located one of the most
beautiful and rugged areas in the country, dotted
with unusual rock formations, dramatic cliffs
and historic caves. Rouffignac Cave is several
miles long, requiring a trip on an electric underground
train to see the painted walls; Lascaux, with
its prehistoric “Sistine Chapel,” is perhaps
the most famous of its kind in the world.
St. Emilion is another favorite excursion; this
medieval town, founded by a Breton monk, features
a massive underground church carved out of solid
limestone, and there are plenty of countryside
wineries to visit en route – a must-do if you’re
in Aquitaine. Bordeaux claims many divine vintages,
including Margaux, Lynch Bages, Lafite Rothschild
and Philippe Rothschild. It is also the birthplace
of Cognac, and the medieval part of its namesake
seafaring town still features historic homes
and brandy warehouses.
Another highlight of Aquitaine, Biarritz, is
one of the most popular resort towns in the area.
Dubbed the “Jewel of the Coast,” Biarritz has
transformed itself over the centuries, from a
tiny fishing village to an early 20th-century
aristocratic resort whose character remains today.
Visitors flock here for the glamorous beaches
and waterfront casinos, but the town offers a
whole lot more, as it is a gateway to Basque
culture and turn-of-the-century architecture.
The Midi-Pyrenees region, halfway between the
Atlantic and the Mediterranean, is anchored by
the historic city of Toulouse, situated on an
ancient Roman settlement. The city’s many pseudo-Roman
style red brick buildings give Toulouse its nickname La
Ville Rose, The Pink City.
Toulouse is a short drive to some very fascinating
places. You can visit Lourdes, the largest Catholic
pilgrimage site in France, made famous by a 19th
century girl's visions of the Virgin Mary. Another
popular trip from Toulouse is the medieval walled
town of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage
site with Gothic architectural treasures.