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Aquitaine

page pix Aquitaine is an ancient region encompassing a huge territory in the southwestern corner of France. It includes the southern Atlantic coast, the western end of the Pyrenees, the valley of the Dordogne, and the Bordeaux wine regions. This is the part of France that Eleanor of Aquitaine carried with her as her dowry when she married Henry
II of England. Its varied territory is largely unknown to American tourists, except for those who pursue wine tasting among the famous names of Bordeaux.

The other best known part of the region is the Dordogne, a region named for its river. Here lies Sarlat, a medieval and Renaissance gem of a town, the first one saved and restored under André Malraux’s law of conservation and restoration. The region is also famous for prehistoric caves: Lascaux, Font de Gaume, and Rouffignac, an enormous cave famous for its mammouth drawings. It is a countryside where the stone turns to gold in the slant of sunlight, roses clamber up the walls in every town, hilltops are crowned with ancient walls, and small markets appear weekly in the villages, offering seasonal delights and modern temptations. Despite a longtime influx of British visitors and Parisian weekenders, the Dordogne is still essential timeless France.


We walked La Roque Saint Cristophe, a prehistoric troglodyte settlement. We rode a gabare down the river from La Roque Gageac, an amazing village built against the cliff over the river. We ate duck - in all its forms - and local cheeses - and wonderful meals in small restaurants, at prices a third of those in Paris. We wandered through markets, castles and “most beautiful villages,” of which the Dordogne has a very large number - each different from the last.

When I look at the map, the region we wandered through is not much larger in area than greater Paris - yet it encompasses thousands of years of prehistory, the fortresses and castles of the Hundred Years’ War, some of the loveliest villages in France, a distinctive regional cuisine, and much more. “

Aquitaine Programs


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