Aquitaine

 

A visit to the Aquitaine region inevitably inspires interest in its past. With an abundance of prehistoric sites and a fascinating variety of artifacts, it is no wonder that the region is referred to as the "Cradle of the Arts." The outstanding finds at Lascaux, La Madeleine, and Rouffignac, the abbeys, fortresses, and châteaux, and the Gallo-Roman remains will delight those interested in architecture and archaeology.

Romantics will be fascinated by the social history of the region, the duchy ruled over by Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 12th century. Married first to Louis VII of France, and later to Henry II of England, Eleanor bore ten children, including Richard the Lion-Hearted. One of the earliest feminists, Eleanor's court encouraged the flowering of the troubadour tradition and the development of the concept of romantic love.

map

A wine-growing region of worldwide reputation, the vineyards of Bordeaux produce Margaux, Medoc, Sauterne, and Saint-Emilion wines, leading examples from an area where many excellent wines are produced. Aquitaine abounds with time-honored recipes and new cuisine, with local specialties like truffles and foie gras to whet the appetite of the gourmet. Local and international hotel chains offer all the services necessary to satisfy the most demanding visitors. Quality, price, and pleasure are the key words of promise in Aquitaine.

Capital: Bordeaux.

 

Composed of 5 regions:

Dordogne (24). Capital: Périgueux

Although the Dordogne has no coastline for ‘bucket and spade’ holidays, there are wonderful rivers for canoeing and swimming, as well as sandy river beaches.
The scenery is dramatic and interspersed with pretty towns and villages, both in the hinterland and along the Dordogne and Vezère rivers, plus innumerable châteaux, caves, museums, picnic spots and viewpoints.
There are four distinct sub-regions - the Périgord Pourpre, in the southwest, named after its vineyards; the Périgord Vert to the north; the Périgord Noir, centred around Sarlat, which is named after its dense forest; and finally, the Périgord Blanc which covers the limestone countryside to the north around Périgueux (see below). As you can see, the central part of the Dordogne has attractions on almost every corner and it does tend to be very busy in peak season.

perigord


 

Gironde (33). Capital: Bordeaux

La Gironde is the largest department in France - 126 kms of sandy coast backed by 480,000 hectares of pine trees to the east. Inland there are numerous lakes and rivers.
The Gironde estuary is the largest in Europe and is the only place you'll find the endangered sturgeon species. This is wine country with Bordeaux at its centre. In total there are 57 wines labelled AOC - Bordeaux, Sauternes, Medoc & St-Emilion to name but a few.
Gothic, Roman, military & religious architecture - a feast for the eyes, especially the bastides in Creon (see below), Cadillac and Libourne.In Gironde, the Atlantic Ocean encounters the Garonne and Dordogne rivers.

creon


Landes (40). Capital: Mont de Marsan

Two main features distinguish the Landes. The long stretch of coast and shifting sand dunes, and the vast pine forests planted to stabilise the sand dunes.
It is from these two features that the Landes derives its wealth - tourism, to the coastal resorts in the summer months, and sales of pinewood and its derivatives.
Renowned for its hot springs & thermal spas, Dax (see below) has been a popular centre, with hot mud serving to soothe ailments, since Roman times.
Coastal resorts such as Hossegor and Capbreton are noteworthy, with surf enthusiasts travelling from all over Europe to catch the Atlantic waves. Inland, boat trips and fishing are available.

dax

 

Pyrénées Atlantiques (64). Capital: Pau

Having the advantage of both the ocean and the mountains, the Pyrénées-Atlantiques offers a great variety of places of interest to discover, ranging from the typical villages of Bearn and the Basque Country to the wonderful Pyrenees mountains great for hiking, as well as the seaside resorts on the coast, bordered with fine sand beaches, and the cities of Bayonne and Pau (see below) with their rich heritage.

pau


Lot et Garonne (47). Capital: Agen

The Lot and Garonne and south Dordogne area of France offers the perfect combination of things to do and see, a perfect place to relax and unwind, and lots of interesting things to see.

Places to visit: In the region you will find chateaux, including Bonaguil (see below), Beynac and Biron; medieval towns, including Domme, Belves, Monpazier and Sarlat; caves, including those at Domme; unspoilt countryside, rivers and caves, beautiful gardens and small unspoilt villages - several classed as 'most beautiful villages in France'.

Much of the most beautiful rural architecture in France, or perhaps to be found anywhere, is to be seen here - ancient houses, barns, pigeonniers and churches simply form part of the unchanging landscape.

bonaguil

 

 

Aquitaine lists 15 "most beautiful villages of France", of which:

 

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère (Dordogne) stleon

 

amandSaint-Amand-de-Coly (Dordogne)

 

La Bastide-Clairence (Pyrénées Atlantiques) bastide

 

montMontflanquin (Lot et Garonne)

 

 

 

Festivals and Traditional Events

Basque Coast Music Festival takes place each summer (August-September) in Bayonne. It features orchestras, choirs and soloists - all producing classical music of a very high standard. Performances take place in the many glorious churches of Bayonne, Saint-Jean de Luz and Ciboure.

Biarritz Dance Festival - le Temps d'Aimer La Danse, on Septembers, is among the best European festivals devoted to dance in all its guises. Visitors see everything from break dancing to ballet and dance-related exhibitions at venues across town.

danse

Biarritz Surf Festival - July, brings together some of the greatest names in Hawaiian and world surfing for a week of longboard contests and music and films, on the beach at the Côte des Basques, the birthplace of surfing in France.
More than 150 000 spectators come to watch the numerous contests and demonstrations of tandem surfing, paddle board racing, Tahitian pirogues, and other water sports.

surf


Salt Festival – in Salies-de-Béarn, in September.Inspired by finding a wild boar preserved by salt in the Pyrenean foothills, two 11th-century huntsmen founded Salies-de-Béarn. The Salt Festival (Fête du Sel), which commemorates the town's heritage, is its biggest annual event.

In the centre of the town is a spring, from which gushes forth water that is eight or nine times saltier than seawater. This source generated huge wealth throughout the Middle Ages, when all meat had to be preserved in salt, and the town itself has some charming antiquities.


Musik à Pile - Saint-Denis-de-Pile, Gironde (33). Musical festival which takes place at the foot of château de Bomâle built in the 16th century.
01 to 05 June 2011

musik


Jazz 360 - Cénac - Gironde (33) Jazz festival with traditional and contemporary artists. 01 to 05 June 2011.


Transhumances Musicales - Laas, Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64) Music from the Atlantic. 02 to 05 June 2011.

 

For more updated info on events, go to: http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/Provinces/Aquitaine_events.shtml

 

 

Markets in Aquitaine

Markets are always an opportunity to discover and take part in daily village life… and to find delicious seasonal produce. The most typical markets of Aquitaine are certainly the duck and goose markets selling the famous foie gras and other products from fattened birds.

Among the specialities of Aquitaine, we should mention the truffle markets – the black diamonds of Perigord. They are held in the winter season in a large number of villages in the Dordogne. Arcachon markets are the best for for oysters and seafood, and Bazas' for beef.

Saturday has been market day in Dax since 1356.

Every Monday in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, livestock and lambs take over the streets at dawn for the weekly market on Place du Trinquet.

Between mid-October and the end of March, they are held all over the region, from Montignac to Orthez, Monségur to Villeneuve-sur-Lot and Aire-sur-l’Adour to Périgueux.

For more markets, go to: http://frenchduck.co.uk/wordpress/regions/markets-in-gironde-33-aquitaine

For Christmas markets, go to: http://us.franceguide.com/event/Aquitaine-Holiday-Markets-from-Bordeaux-to-Sarlat.html?NodeID=406&EditoID=127389

Gastronomy

 

Aquitaine Foie Gras : this gourmet French speciality originates from the farmers of the South-West regions of France who borrowed the Foie Gras recipe from East-European Jewis people. That is how this duck Terrine - also made with goose livers fattened by gavage - has eventually become an essential part of the French gastronomy! Originally known as a luxury product, the Foie Gras is generally served as starter or side dish, in quite small quantity, on its own with toasts or sweet French brioche.

foie

 

Aquitaine Duck Confit: The Aquitaine Confit of Duck was first presented during Henri IV's royal banquets. The typical potted duck produced in the South-West area respects the ancient common rule of preserving meat in fat. The traditional recipe only consists in duck legs stewed in fat with coarse salt, pepper, thyme, bay, or any typical herbs. The meat is baked after a couple of weeks to fully enjoy its flavour and generally comes with roast sardalaise potatoes, French beans or slow-braised cabbage.

duck

 

Perigord Black Truffles: truffles used to be detected by pigs that have been especially trained to find these rare mushrooms but dogs more commonly used nowadays. In Perigord and the other neighbouring regions of France, they like to mention another intriguing – yet funny – method of finding truffles: observing where the “truffle fly” lays its eggs. It is believed that these flies choose only the finest truffle in which to do this! Considering such particularities, Perigord Black Truffles are known as a luxury French product sometimes called “black diamonds” and especially appreciated by foodies.

Bayonne Ham: The traditional Bayonne ham must be at least 7 months old before it is offered for sale. The best way to preserve its typical taste is to keep the ham in a cool (8°c) dry atmosphere.

To go further, you can experience the Basque festival called “la Foire au Jambon” that is organised each Easter in the ancient city of Bayonne. This local fair includes a "ham market" and an annual regional competition to find the best producer of traditional Bayonne Ham. But you can also taste and buy variations of the French ham during the popular and lively Bayonne Feasts (known under their Spanish name, Ferias) in August!

 

Wines:

Cabernet Sauvignon (Appellation: Bordeaux, Saint Emilion, Pomerol, Médoc, Haut médoc)

Cabernet Franc: (Appellation: Vins de Bordeaux, Vins d’Aquitaine)

Merlot Noir: (Appellation: Saint Emilion, Bergerac, Vins de Bordeaux...)

Petit verdot: (Appellation: Médoc)

Malbec or Cot: (Appellation: Bordeaux)

 

Here's a traditional recipe for you to try!

 

Duck Breast with Apples and Crystallised Onions

Ingredients

for 2-4 people

 

- 2 large fattened duck breasts
- 3 sachets of vanilla sugar
- balsamic vinegar
- 3 Golden Delicious apples and 1 Granny Smith
- 3 soup spoons of sugar (or thick honey)
- 50 g/1.75 oz salted butter
- 50 g/1.75 oz unsalted butter
- a little cinnamon (optional)
- 4 onions
- salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Preparation

Cooking time: 30 min

breast

 

 

1. Slit both sides of the duck breasts with a knife and place them, fatty side up, in a dish. Sprinkle with pepper and vanilla sugar (1 sachet). Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar. Cover and leave to stand for 1 to 2 hours.

2. In a deep frying pan, mix 1 sachet of vanilla sugar, lots of pepper and ½ a cup of balsamic vinegar.

3. Put in the duck breasts to heat up, taking care to turn them regularly

4. Peel the apples and cut them into slices that are not too fine.

5. Place the apples in a large frying pan with 50 g of salted butter, the cinnamon and the sugars. Fry, while keeping an eye on the duck breasts.

6. Over a low flame, put the onions in a large frying pan with 50 g of unsalted butter, salt and pepper and cook gently until they have crystallised.

7. Serve the meat with the apples and the crystallised onions.

 

Table linen:

The toiles Basques are brightly coloured woven fabrics from the Pyrenees area.
These thick fabrics (canvas) are traditionally used for table linen (cotton or coated), canvas shoes, deck chairs and many soft furnishing items.
However, their origin is quite different: they were originally made to cover working oxes to protect them against the bothering flies during the summer months !
The designs always include 7 different stripes representing the 7 provinces of the Pays Basque.

Here are some example out of our collection which you can see on this page of our website: http://www.lepinparasol.com/toile_basque_coated_tablecloth.htm

Basque tablecloths
Biarritz Olive acrylic coated Basque tablecloth
Biarritz Green acrylic coated Basque tablecloth

Basque tablecloth

Biarritz Anis acrylic coated Basque tablecloth
Biarritz Ocean blue acrylic coated Basque tablecloth
Basque coated tablecloth Basque coated tablecloth
Biarritz red acrylic coated Basque tablecloth Mylene orange acrylic coated Basque tablecloth


8 seater Basque stripes coated tablecloth: AU$141 - US$123
10 seater Basque stripes coated tablecloth: AU$174 - US$150

For any other size, please ask for a quote -
Made to measure tablecloth is our specialty

Contact & Order

NOTE: The stripes go along the table

See our collection of Basque tablecloths, cotton and coated, on this page of our website: http://www.lepinparasol.com/toile_basque_coated_tablecloth.htm

 

Recommended by one or more of our newsletter subscribers:

Recommended by Celia - http://www.frenchcottages.com/

 

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Catherine Castelain
c.castelain@lepinparasol.com
Date Last Modified: 4/3/15
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