Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Nouvelle-Aquitaine is a region in southwestern France resulting from the merger of the former regions of Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes. Its capital is Bordeaux. It also has several large cities (Bayonne, Limoges, La Rochelle, Pau, Poitiers) as well as three major seaside resorts (Arcachon, Biarritz and Royan).

First region in terms of tourist jobs, it benefits from the presence of a vast ocean frontage going from the Charente islands to the mouth of the Bidasoa, at the gates of Spain, passing through the Gironde estuary (more large wild estuary in Europe) and the Bassin d'Arcachon. Its beaches, exposed to the swell, are frequented every summer by millions of holidaymakers, and are also a mecca for surfing, some spots of which, on the Basque coast or on the Ile de Ré, enjoy a solid reputation. . The Pyrenees massif, from the green Basque mountains to the peaks of Béarn, is a leading "nature" destination in all seasons, while in winter, ski resorts such as Gourette or La Pierre-Saint-Martin are very crowded.

The region also has the presence of several natural parks, the largest forest in Western Europe (Landes forest) and the highest dune in Europe (Pilat dune). Certain destinations, such as the Dordogne and Vézère valleys, with their prehistoric caves and castles, or the Basque Country, are particularly popular with visitors.

Created by the territorial reform of 2014, the region was born on January 1, 2016. It more or less takes over the borders of the former Roman province of Aquitaine resulting from the administrative reorganization under the principality of Augustus in the 1st century BC. Our era. These remained roughly those of Aquitaine during the creation of the Merovingian (in the 7th century) then Carolingian (in the 9th century) kingdoms of Aquitaine, then the Duchy of Aquitaine of Aliénor (in the 12th century) and the principality of Aquitaine of the Black Prince (in the 14th century).

The largest region in France, Nouvelle-Aquitaine is part of the south-west quarter of France. It is one of the three constituent regions of the South of France and is culturally divided between the regions of Oïl (Poitou, Aunis, Saintonge, partly Angoumois), the regions of Oc (Guyenne, Gascogne, Limousin, Marche, Périgord, Béarn, partly Angoumois) and a Basque region (French Basque Country or Iparralde).

The region benefits from a maritime frontage on the Atlantic Ocean of nearly 720 kilometers, going from the Charente archipelago in the north (islands of Ré, Oléron, Aix and Madame) to the Basque coast in the south, in passing through the mouth of the Gironde and the Arcachon basin. It counts on the presence of three important seaside resorts: Arcachon, Biarritz and Royan. Its southern part is marked by the presence of the Pyrenees massif, which forms the border with Spain. Several winter sports resorts are located there, including Gourette and La Pierre-Saint-Martin. To the east, the Limousin mountains, with their gently accentuated relief, form the first foothills of the Massif Central.

Structured around the valleys of the Garonne, the Charente, the Vienne and the Adour, the region is famous for its art of living, its gastronomy, its famous vineyards (wines of Bordeaux and Bergerac, Jurançon, Haut- Poitou, eaux-de-vie from Cognac and Armagnac), its festivals (Bayonne or Dax festivals, Francofolies de La Rochelle, etc.) its historical heritage (prehistoric caves, castles, bastides, towns of art and history …) or its spectacular natural and national parks. That of the Landes de Gascogne is set in the famous Landes forest, the largest in Europe, which extends over three departments (Gironde, Landes and Lot-et-Garonne). The Périgord-Limousin park extends in a hilly landscape, and that of Millevaches in Limousin, with its peat bogs and its moors, is sometimes compared to a "French Patagonia". In its northern part, near Niort, the Marais Poitevin, a veritable cathedral of greenery, is made up of numerous canals meandering through the bocage, earning it the nickname of “Green Venice”. Conversely, in its southern part, the Pyrenees National Park boasts spectacular landscapes and a rich fauna and flora.



La Rochelle


Other destinations

Château de Beynac

Château de Biron

Château de Bourdeilles

Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Fort du Portalet


Towers of Merle



The region essentially enjoys an oceanic climate, with slight variations depending on where you are.
The Aquitaine oceanic climate (hot summers, mild winters) affects most of the region, from the Charentes to the Basque Country. It breaks down into several micro-climates, especially on the coast, where frosts are almost absent.
To the north, Poitou experiences a Parisian oceanic climate (temperate summers, cool winters).
The climate of Limousin and Périgord is a degraded oceanic climate, which varies according to the relief.
Finally, the climate of Béarn is a mountain climate, with more distinct seasons. Pau, its capital, has a micro-climate due to the proximity of the Pyrenees, with hot summers and mild winters.

The sunshine is particularly generous, especially on the coast, and can reach 2250 hours per year, which is comparable to a Mediterranean city like Perpignan. It reaches 1800 h/year in Poitiers, Bayonne and Pau, 1900 h/year in Limoges, 2000 h/year in Bordeaux and 2250 h/year in La Rochelle. (For comparison, the sunshine is about 1600 h / year in Lille and Paris, 1900 h / year in Toulouse and 2600 h / year in Montpellier).

Rainfall is more marked in spring and winter, especially in the Basque Country and in the south of the Landes. There is thus an average of 600 mm of precipitation in Poitiers (equivalent to Paris), 700 mm in La Rochelle and Limoges (equivalent to Toulouse), 900 mm in Bordeaux, 1,000 mm in Pau and 1,400 mm in Bayonne (more than in Brest and its 1,200 mm). In summer, dry spells are not uncommon throughout the region. Temperatures can reach 40°C, especially in the Landes de Gascogne.


What todo

Due to its size, the region allows you to practice many sports activities. Among the main ones:

Surfing, the flagship activity on the coast due to the good exposure to the swells of the Charente, Girondine, Landes and Basque coasts. The main spots are, from north to south, the Ile de Ré, the wild coast of the Arvert peninsula, the beaches of Lacanau, Hourtin, Carcans, Mimizan, and even more Biarritz and the Basque coast, where form the famous Belharra wave, which can reach 15 meters high.
The region has many marked hiking trails. The GR4, which departs from Royan towards the Mediterranean coast, passes through Charentes, Périgord and Limousin, with stops in Saintes, Cognac, Angoulême and Limoges in particular. The GR8 follows the coast from north to south, passing through Royan, Soulac-sur-Mer, Lacanau, Mimizan and Hendaye. The GR48 passes through several villages in Limousin and Poitou, such as Aixe-sur-Vienne, Confolens, Saint-Savin and Angles-sur-l'Anglin. The GR636, which connects Monbazillac, in Dordogne, to Lacapelle-Biron, in Lot-et-Garonne, allows you to see several villages of character, including the bastide of Monflanquin One of the most beautiful villages in France. The GR10, which crosses the Pyrenees chain, starts from Hendaye, passes through the medieval town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the typical villages of Sare One of the most beautiful villages in France, Ainhoa One of the most beautiful villages de France and the Basque countryside, before crossing several passes nearly 2,000 meters high. Finally, the hike to the Pic du Midi d'Ossau (2,884 metres), reserved for sports enthusiasts, allows you to appreciate a wide panorama of the Pyrenees.
Basque pelota, originating as its name suggests in the Basque Country, is played in fronton (outdoors) or in trinquet (in a covered space). Although almost every village in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques has its fronton, this sport is also practiced elsewhere in the region, in the Landes, in Gironde, and in a few other towns further north (La Rochelle, Royan, Poitiers, Limoges, Brive- la-Gaillarde…)
Winter sports are practiced almost exclusively in the resorts of the Pyrenees, such as Gourette, Artouste-Fabrèges, Issarbe or Le Somport-Candanchu. It is however possible to ski, depending on the weather conditions, in Bonnefond and Saint-Sétier, on the Millevache plateau, in Corrèze (about 850 to 950 meters above sea level).



The reputation of the Bayonne festivals, created in 1932, has long since exceeded regional borders. Inspired by the San Fermin festivities in Pamplona, they take place every year in July, and are the occasion for bullfights, Landes races, power games, bandas and concerts. They bring together an average of 1 to 1.5 million visitors.
The Dax festivals, which are held in August in the main town in the south of the Landes, bring together nearly 800,000 "festayres" dressed according to the tradition of white and red. These festivities are, as in Bayonne, a pretext for bullfights, concerts and folklore events.
The Confolens festival, the first edition of which dates back to 1957, is held every summer in Confolens, a small town in eastern Charente. Dedicated to world folklore, it brings together nearly 100,000 visitors around the "big names" of song, mainly French-speaking, and groups from all over the world. The concerts are followed by wanderings in traditional costume in the streets of the city, as well as various animations.


Getting here

By car
Several highways provide access to the region from Paris, Toulouse or Spain.

From Paris, the A10 serves the towns of Poitiers, Saintes or Bordeaux, where it joins the city's ring road (A630 motorway).

From Toulouse, the A62 provides access to Agen, Marmande, Langon and Bordeaux.

From Irun, Spain, the A63 leads to Bayonne, Dax and Bordeaux. The A64 connects Bayonne to Pau, and continues towards Tarbes and Toulouse.

Further north, the A20, which connects Paris to Toulouse, opens up Limousin and notably passes through Limoges, La Souterraine and Brive-la-Gaillarde. The A89, which connects Bordeaux to Lyon, passes through Libourne, Périgueux and Brive-la-Gaillarde.

By bus
The main towns in the region have bus stations with several bus companies. In 2016, Eurolines served Angoulême, Bayonne, Bordeaux, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Limoges, La Rochelle, Niort, Poitiers and Saintes. Ouibus serves Bordeaux, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Limoges and Poitiers. Flixbus serves Bayonne, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Brive-la-Gaillarde, La Rochelle and Limoges.

By train
The main station in the region is that of Bordeaux-Saint-Jean (11 million passengers per year). It welcomes TGVs from Paris-Montparnasse, Toulouse, Lille or Irun, as well as TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine (regional express trains) and Intercités which allow you to reach other cities in the region.

The stations of Limoges-Bénédictin and Limoges-Montjovis, Bayonne, Poitiers, La Rochelle, Angoulême or Dax also accommodate TGV and TER.

By plane
The region's main airport is located on the outskirts of Bordeaux. Bordeaux-Mérignac international airport, the 5th in the province in terms of attendance (6.8 million passengers per year in 2018), offers direct lines with many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Spain or the Netherlands, as well as several internal lines with the main French cities.

Other airports include, in order of attendance, Biarritz-Bayonne-Anglet airport, which serves the Basque coast, Pau-Pyrénées airport, Limoges-Bellegarde airport, Bergerac-Dordogne airport -Périgord and La Rochelle-Île de Ré airport.



The souvenirs that can be brought back from a stay in the region vary according to the place visited:

One (or more) bottle(s) of Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion or Bergerac wine, or even cognac, armagnac, pineau des Charentes or floc de Gascogne. In Limousin, panazo (a kind of pastis) or chestnut liqueur. In the Basque Country, sagardo (literally “apple wine”, a kind of cider) or patxaran (aniseed aperitif) from Navarre.
Agen prunes marinated in Armagnac, traditionally served as a digestive.
Salt or fleur de sel from the Ile de Ré, harvested by hand.
Saint-Emilion or Montmorillon macaroons.
Limoges porcelain, which is available both in traditional table services and in costume jewellery.
Local cheeses: goat cheese from Poitou or sheep cheese from the Pyrenees (Ossau Iraty, Ardi Gasna).
Pastries: broyé du Poitou, galette charentaise, canelés from Bordeaux, pastis from the Landes, Basque cake stuffed with black cherry jam from Itxassou...
A Basque (or Béarn) beret. This traditional headgear, a symbol of France for many foreigners, was originally used by shepherds in the south of the region. They are still made in the traditional way in Oloron-Sainte-Marie or Nay.
Sneakers. Traditionally made in Mauléon-Licharre, they are worn in summer, at home or at the beach.
A makila. This cane of Basque origin, worked by hand, actually contains a tapered weapon.



French, as the language of the Republic, is spoken and understood everywhere. The main regional languages are Poitevin and Saintongeais, languages of oïl spoken in part of Charentes and Poitou, Occitan (Gascon, Languedoc, Limousin and Marchois dialects) and Basque.



The region has five universities (Bordeaux, Poitiers, Limoges, La Rochelle and Pau) spread over several campuses, as well as several institutes and grandes écoles.

The main university in the region is that of Bordeaux, which has approximately 60,000 students and 4,000 teacher-researchers. Founded in 1441, it has several sites in Bordeaux and its agglomeration (notably on the Talence-Pessac-Gradignan campus, the largest in Europe) as well as in Agen, Dax, Périgueux and Arcachon. The University of Poitiers, which welcomes 24,000 students, shines on the north of the region. Founded in 1431, it is one of the oldest in France. It has three campuses in the conurbation and several sites in Angoulême, Niort and Royan, which hosts the Audiovisual Center for the Study of Languages, where students from all over the world come to learn French. The University of Limoges welcomes 15,000 students spread over the campuses of Limoges, Guéret, Tulle and Brive-la-Gaillarde. The University of La Rochelle, created recently (in 1993) welcomes around 8000 students on its Minimes campus, in the city center. Multidisciplinary, she specializes in sustainable development. The University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour, founded in 1972, has approximately 12,000 students, spread over several sites in the region (Pau, Bayonne, Anglet, Mont-de-Marsan) as well as in Tarbes, in the neighboring region of Occitanie.



Mountain outings
It is advisable to check the weather before any outing in the high mountains in the Pyrenees.

Swimming in the sea
In most of the seaside resorts in the region, the beaches are generally supervised during the summer season (from mid-June to the beginning of September). The flag hoisted at the lifeguard station indicates whether swimming is authorized (green flag), potentially dangerous (orange or yellow flag) or prohibited (red flag).

The beaches of the wild coast of the Arvert peninsula and the Gironde and Landes coasts are not all supervised, or only in certain places. Exposed directly to the swell, they are sometimes subject to powerful rolls or currents that should not be underestimated. Baïnes, natural basins that sometimes form on beaches, may seem tempting but are actually extremely dangerous, as they can empty into the ocean at any time, generating particularly strong currents that carry the unwary offshore. Do not try to fight and let yourself be carried away, then signal your presence to the lifeguards or other bathers by making big gestures. For more information, do not hesitate to inquire at the nearest aid station.

Finally, do not underestimate the heat of the sun (more violent than it seems) and do not try to tan without a cream adapted to your skin.

Swimming in lakes and rivers
There are many bathing spots in the area. Not all of them have a supervised swimming area. In this case, swimming is at the risk and peril of the users.



The basic rules of good manners are enough to establish good relations with the inhabitants. Like many people in the South of France, the inhabitants of the region are generally generous, spontaneous and open, but proud and sometimes touchy: certain subjects, such as sport (rugby), bullfighting culture (bullfights) or nationalism ( especially in the Basque Country) must be approached with caution. There is a kind of age-old "rivalry" between Bordeaux and Toulouse, and more generally between Aquitaine and Languedoc, and this subject can sometimes be tricky to broach with people you don't know well, even in a joke.



Territorial framework

The Nouvelle-Aquitaine region results from the merger of three local authorities (Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes) decided as part of the territorial reform of 2014. Extending over 84,036 km2 (comparable to the area of Austria) , larger than French Guiana, it is the largest region in France (mainland and overseas combined). It is one of the four constituent regions of the South of France.

It covers part of the Great South-West, i.e. twelve departments which are as follows in alphabetical order: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Corrèze, Creuse, Deux-Sèvres, Dordogne, Gironde, Haute-Vienne, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne , Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Vienne.

It encompasses the three largest departments of metropolitan France (Gironde, Landes and Dordogne) which, respectively with 9,976 km2, 9,243 km2 and 9,060 km2, occupy a third of the total area of the region.


Moderately populated region with strong population contrasts

Demographically, New Aquitaine accumulates population contrasts where the distribution of the population is very unequal throughout the new region.

Thus the Gironde is by far the most populated department with nearly 1,600,000 inhabitants, the Creuse is the least populated with less than 120,000 inhabitants, the latter being the second least populated department in France after Lozère.

Similarly, population densities by department range from simple to sevenfold between Creuse (21 inhab./km2) and Gironde (159 inhab./km2).

Furthermore, only three departments out of the twelve that make up this region have a population density higher than the regional average: Gironde (159 inhab./km2), Charente-Maritime (94 inhab./km2) and Pyrénées-Atlantiques (89 inhab./km2). ./km2) which, moreover, are all three coastal departments bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.

But New Aquitaine remains on the whole a moderately populated region, its population density (71 inhab./km2) is clearly lower than that of metropolitan France (119 inhab./km2).

This average population of the region is also reflected in the low number of large cities and by a relatively moderate urbanization.

The largest city and only metropolis is Bordeaux (254,436 inhabitants in 2017 for the municipality), at the heart of an agglomeration of more than 900,000 inhabitants; it is tending to become a regional megalopolis, the result of decisions taken by various regional planning policies. The regional capital now extends its influence over the entire south-west quarter of France and particularly increases its urban influence over the entire region due to its regional command functions.

Three other towns at the intermediate level actually play a weak role in the region compared to Bordeaux. New Aquitaine has only one large city with limited urban weight, Limoges, and two medium-sized cities with modest influences, Poitiers and Pau. It is striking to note that they are all three located on the territorial margins of the new region and were, for the first two, former regional capitals: Limoges (132,175 inhabitants and more than 182,000 inhabitants in its agglomeration) , Poitiers (88,291 inhabitants and more than 132,000 inhabitants in its agglomeration) and Pau (77,130 inhabitants and nearly 200,000 inhabitants in its agglomeration). None of these three cities exerts enough counterweight against Bordeaux in the regional urban structure.

In the rest of the region, a relatively diversified fabric of medium-sized towns mesh the regional territory. Of these, only Bayonne and La Rochelle stand out clearly for their remarkable urban dynamism, although their influence is limited to their micro-region.

The other medium-sized cities can be classified into four distinct categories:

Some cities exert their importance on the scale of their department mainly because of their role as prefecture, such as Agen, Angoulême, Mont-de-Marsan, Niort and Périgueux.

Other urban centers owe their influence thanks to their particular geographical situation allowing them to play a role of crossroads of communication and commercial pole like Bergerac in the middle valley of the Dordogne, Brive-la-Gaillarde between the departments of Corrèze and of the Dordogne, Saintes in the central part of Charente-Maritime or Villeneuve-sur-Lot in the Lot valley.

The third category of these cities corresponds to former industrial centers where industry still plays a significant role, such as Châtellerault with the automobile or Rochefort with aeronautics.

Finally, some towns owe their development to tourism, such as Dax with hydrotherapy, Arcachon and Royan with seaside tourism.


Geographic framework

The Nouvelle-Aquitaine region is bordered by Pays de la Loire to the northwest, Centre-Val de Loire to the north, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to the east, Occitanie to the southeast and by Spain to the south.

The region covers a large part of the Aquitaine Basin and a small portion of the Paris Basin (the boundary between the two being located at the threshold of Poitou), as well as the Limousin plateau (belonging to the Massif Central) and the western part of the chain of the Pyrenees.

It is part of five hydrographic basins facing the Atlantic Ocean: Loire, Charente, Vienne, Garonne and Dordogne (and their estuary extension which is the Gironde), and Adour, feeder rivers bordering land most often devoted to viticulture and agriculture.

New Aquitaine also relies on the presence of a wide coastline of nearly 720 kilometers open to the Atlantic Ocean, ranging from the national nature reserve of the Baie de l'Aiguillon and the Sèvre Niortaise estuary ( north of Charron) to that of Bidassoa (south of Hendaye) and including the islands of the Charente archipelago (islands of Ré, Oléron, Aix and Madame) as well as the vast indentation of the basin of Arcachon. This varied territory is the domain of oyster farming (oysters from Marennes-Oléron and the Arcachon basin), mussel farming (mussels from the bay of Aiguillon), and tourism, materialized by the presence of famous seaside resorts such as Arcachon (Silver Coast), Biarritz (Basque Coast) or Royan (Coast of Beauty). Its northern part (Charentaise coast and Gironde estuary) is included in the natural marine park of the Gironde estuary and the Pertuis sea, the largest marine park in France.

From the Arvert peninsula to the coasts of Labourd, the coastline, almost straight, is bordered by high dunes, which culminate in the Dune du Pilat, large lakes (Lac d'Hourtin and Carcans, Etang de Lacanau, Cazaux and Sanguinet ponds, Biscarrosse and Parentis ponds, etc.) and wetlands (national nature reserve of dunes and marshes of Hourtin) which precede vast pine forests planted in the 19th century. The Landes forest, by far the largest, covers nearly one million hectares (including nearly 950,000 maritime pines), making it the largest man-made forest in Western Europe. Forming a vast triangle starting from the Pointe de Grave, north of Soulac-sur-Mer, to Hossegor in the south, and Nérac in the east, it replaced the barren, sandy and marshy moors that characterized the region during centuries. The Landes forest is partially included in the Landes de Gascogne regional natural park, which begins south of Bordeaux.

Further north, on the right bank of the Gironde estuary, the Coubre forest has the same characteristics, forming the main green lung of the Royan area over nearly 8,000 hectares. Other important forest massifs cover the region: in the Basque Country, the Iraty forest covers more than 17,000 hectares; on the borders of Charente, Charente-Maritime and Dordogne, the Double forest, punctuated by nearly 500 bodies of water, extends over approximately 50,000 hectares; further north, near Poitiers, the Moulière forest covers nearly 6,800 hectares. Further east, near Guéret, the Chabrières forest reaches 2,000 hectares.

The extreme south of the region has a mountainous character with the presence of the Pyrenees massif. Although its western part (the Labourd mountains) is made up of high green hills which generally struggle to reach 1,000 m (the Rhune, near Bayonne, is 900 m high; but further to the east, the highest point of the French Basque country, the peak of Orhy, nevertheless rises to 2,017 m), the region of Pau is marked by more mineral landscapes, and is surrounded by high peaks which often exceed 2,000 meters. The highest point of the region, the Palas peak (2,974 m) is located not far from there. Other Pyrenean peaks located in the region also include the Pic du Midi d'Ossau (2884 m), the Pic d'Arriel (2824 m), the Pic de Ger (2613 m) near the sports resort of Gourette winter, Pic d'Anie (2,504 m), Latte de Bazen (2,472 m), Pic d'Ansabère (2,377 m), Pic de l'Arraille (2,147 m) or peak of Arlas (2,044 m).

This rugged region is traversed by many mountain torrents, called gaves: among these are the gave de Pau, the gave de Bious, the gave d'Ossau or the united gaves, on the border of Landes and Pyrénées-Atlantiques . The Ossau Valley, one of the three great valleys of Béarn, extends from the suburbs of Pau to the Col du Pourtalet, on the Franco-Spanish border. Its glacial lakes, its exceptional fauna and flora explain its integration into the Pyrenees National Park.

Belonging to the Massif Central, the Limousin also has a marked relief, with its high bocage plateaus and its few eroded peaks which dominate green valleys and forests of oaks and chestnut trees. The Limousin Plateau, cut by the valleys of the Vienne (which waters its capital, Limoges) of the Isle, the Vézère or the picturesque Corrèze, with its deep reliefs, hardly exceeds 500 m. It marks the watershed line between the Loire basin to the north (sources of the Briance, Aixette, Grêne or Gorre), the Dordogne basin to the south (sources of the Dronne, l'Isle, l'Auvézère), and the maritime watershed of the Charente, to the west.

The Limousin mountains, which include a series of small massifs (Fayat mountains, Monédières massif, Châlus mountains) culminate at Mont Bessou (977 m), in Corrèze. Further north, the Monts de la Marche, which are divided into the Monts de Guéret, the Monts d'Ambazac and the Monts de Blond, are more like high wooded hills, dotted with pastures, than real peaks. They culminate at the signal of Sauvagnac (702 m), in Haute-Vienne. The south-west of Limousin and the north-west of Périgord have been integrated into the Périgord-Limousin regional natural park since 1998, while the regional natural park of Millevaches in Limousin created in 2004 is associated with the eponymous plateau.

The northern part of the region, which corresponds to historical Haut-Poitou and the southern part of Anjou (north-west of Vienne), is organized around an agricultural and wine-growing plateau (vineyards of Haut-Poitou). Poitou) irrigated by the Vienne, the Clain or the Gartempe, which form so many shallow valleys, often bordered by oak forests. Further south, the Niortais presents open landscapes (openfields) dominated by cereals, but also rich marshes, such as the Marais poitevin, the legacy of a former marine gulf filled in by alluvium, which is divided into wet marshes (one speaks more readily of "Green Venice") and dry marshes, converted into polyculture. The town of Niort, on the Sèvre Niortaise, the main agglomeration of Haut-Poitou outside Poitiers, is the gateway to this "Green Venice", a large part of which belongs to the Marais poitevin regional natural park, created in 1979, classified Grand France website.

Further south extend the Charentes, which correspond to the former provinces of Aunis, Angoumois and Saintonge. Aunis is reminiscent of the landscapes of Niortais, with its large marshes which extend on either side of La Rochelle and Rochefort (bay of Yves, marshes of Rochefort, Broue and Brouage) , but also the islands of Ré and Aix, with varied landscapes where pine forests, sandy beaches and the curious lagoon of Fier d'Ars, with sands in constant movement, which is home to an ornithological reserve. The interior of the territory is marked by the presence of a rich cereal plain evoking Beauce by its open relief on the horizon. In the center of this space, the town of Surgères has remained a land of pastures, where dairy farming has retained all its importance: the small town in Aunis is thus one of the centers of production of Charentes-Poitou butter.

Angoumois forms a transitional area between the coastal plains of Aunis, the great “champagnes” of Saintonge and the Limousin plateau. Punctuated with small hills, it seems to live to the rhythm of the Charente, a real artery which waters its main cities, Angoulême, Cognac and Jarnac. A great wine-growing region, it produces an internationally renowned alcohol, cognac, which is an eau-de-vie, as well as Pineau des Charentes. The western quarter of Charentes is made up of Saintonge, a territory organized around the towns of Saintes, the first capital of Aquitaine in Roman times, and Royan.

In the extension of Angoumois, the Dordogne corresponds approximately to the former province of Périgord. Taking its name from the river of the same name, which waters Bergerac but not its prefecture, Périgueux (on the banks of the Isle), this territory with varied landscapes has a high rate of afforestation (45%) which makes it the third most wooded department of France. The great oak and chestnut forests of the Périgord Vert, organized around Nontron, are matched by the large cereal fields of the Périgord Blanc, nicknamed "the granary of Périgord", the oak groves, the walnut trees and the truffle plantations of the Périgord Noir, around Sarlat. -la-Canéda, and the vineyards of Périgord pourpre or Bergeracois, where Bergerac, Monbazillac or Pécharmant are produced.

The Gironde estuary, which acts as a link between Saintonge, Blayais, Médoc and western Guyenne, is in itself a world apart. Largest wild estuary in Europe, classified as a marine natural park with the Pertuis Charentais, it is bordered by large marshes ("small Camargue") and hillsides where most of the great wines of Bordeaux are produced, from the great Médoc wines of the left bank of the Garonne (pauillac, margaux, saint-estèphe, saint-julien) as far as blaye-côtes-de-bordeaux and the côtes-de-bourg of the Blayais and Bourgeais vineyards on the right bank of the Dordogne.

With its hillsides and its palus between Garonne and Dordogne up to the gates of Lot-et-Garonne, the natural region of Entre-deux-Mers follows it with its vineyards of dry or sweet white wines (cadillac, loupiac, Sainte -croix-du-mont). The stones from its limestone quarries in Astéries were used for the construction of Bordeaux buildings such as the Palais Gallien from the 3rd century and the mansions of the 18th and 19th centuries.

On the other bank of the two rivers are still deployed, to the north, on the right bank of the Dordogne, the Libournais vineyard (Pomerol, Saint-Émilion, Fronsac) and to the south, on the left bank of the Garonne, that of the Graves (pessac-léognan) and Sauternes (sauternes, barsac). With an international reputation, the vineyards of Bordeaux have made the reputation of the region for centuries. Its productions are exported all over the world.

Further south, on the left bank of the Garonne, extends to the Atlantic the great plain of the Landes de Gascogne (west of the Gironde and north of the Landes department), which begins at the gates of Bordeaux and ends at the foot of the Pyrenees. Occupied largely by the Landes forest, it is also a major agricultural region (maize cultivation) and it hosts a spa resort of international reputation, Dax, which is also the capital of Chalosse, an important breeding ground.

The coastline, subject to strong erosion, has remained very wild. A few seaside resorts have been set up in the middle of the dunes, from Soulac-sur-Mer in the north of the Gironde, via Carcans, Hourtin, Lacanau, Biscarrosse, Mimizan or Capbreton, not to mention those bordering the Arcachon basin: Arcachon , Andernos-les-Bains, Lège-Cap-Ferret, Pyla-sur-Mer. This vast lagoon, wide open to the ocean, has been home to the Arcachon Basin Marine Nature Park since 2014.

Eastern Guyenne partly corresponds to the department of Lot-et-Garonne. Rich agricultural and cereal region watered by both the Lot and the Garonne, it is famous for its prunes, which took the name of its capital, Agen (nearly 8,000 hectares of land are devoted to plum orchards of Ente) , while Marmande is renowned for its tomatoes. The mildness of its climate explains why tobacco is also grown there, as well as strawberries (gariguettes) and vines, which are used to produce Côtes-du-Marmandais, Côtes de Duras, Buzet or Côtes du Brulhois, which are linked to the vast vineyards of the South-West. But the real glory of this terroir is Armagnac, the Gascon counterpart of cognac, like him exported all over the world. Its vineyard extends over part of the departments of Lot-et-Garonne, Landes but also Gers (in the neighboring region, Occitanie). Floc de Gascogne is also produced there, with delicate floral accents.

The extreme south of the region is made up of two territories with a strong identity, the Basque Country (Northern Basque Country or Ipparalde) and Béarn. The first, which is organized around Bayonne, Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz (Labourd), Mauléon-Licharre (Soule) or Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (Basse-Navarre), owes to its warm and humid climate its green side, the Atlantic rains coming up against the barrier of the Pyrenees. The coast, with its posh or family seaside resorts, makes it a popular vacation spot. The inland, more rural, retains a strong agricultural tradition and a solid wine-growing region, symbolized by the irouléguy vineyard but also by traditional liqueurs such as izarra and patxaran, the characteristic eau-de-vie of Navarre. .

Anchored in the heart of the Pyrenees, Béarn contrasts its Gascon traditions with the Basque Country. Formed by a succession of gently accentuated hills and valleys (that of the Gave de Pau, which concentrates the capital, Pau, and several cities such as Orthez and Navarrenx, being the most populated), it includes the valleys of Aspe, Barétous , and Ossau (with the Col d'Aubisque). Agriculture still occupies an important place, as does viticulture (Jurançon, Madiran) even if the aeronautical and petrochemical sectors are also represented. It is in Béarn that the main winter sports resorts in the region are concentrated, such as Artouste, Gourette, Issarbe, La Pierre Saint-Martin and Le Somport.