adventure aquitaine

Here's Why Your Next Destination Should be France

Wednesday, May 06, 2015 Catie Coscino

I am sure that you, like everyone else in the world, have contemplated traveling to France at some point in your life.  Images of the Eiffel Tower, lovers strolling on cobblestone roads and eating croissants at small cafes may come to mind.  But recently, I got the chance to learn about the other, equally gorgeous parts of France that have so much to offer tourists.  The Aquitaine region is located in southwestern France, just 1 hour away from Paris by plane.  Boasting Bordeaux, Biarritz and even more beautiful areas filled with natural fine sand beaches, mountains, cities, medieval bastides, world-famous vineyards and prehistoric sites, Aquitaine leaves little to be desired.  Right now is the perfect time to set up your trip, because the currency exchange rate is nearly even.  FYI, that is essentially unheard of.  So, I'll take you on a quick tour of the Aquitaine region to see if a visit to southwestern France is in your future!

Bordeaux, the capital of Southwest France,was named "2015 Best European Destination" in an online competition that attracted 250,000 voters.  Fighting against notable European cities like Rome, London, Barcelona, Lisbon and Athens,  Bordeaux came out on top due to its world-renowned vineyards and exquisite French cuisine.  With more than 2,000 wine estates in the area that are open to visitors, there are unlimited possibilities.  Another reason that this lovely region has become such a popular destination is due to the river cruises that are offered.  One can choose between the restaurant cruise, the wine cruise, discovery cruise or even a private riverboat tour through the Garonne and Dordogne rivers as well as the Gironde estuary.

Prefer to stay on land?  Rest comfortably at the Yndo Hotel, a cozy boutique hotel, or the relaxed Hotel de Tourny.  Otherwise, Le Boutique Hotel, built in a beautiful 18th century townhouse that is located right in the Golden Triangle of Bordeaux, offers the 27 rooms, 6 suites and 2 apartments for families.  The rooms feature options like jacuzzis, balneo baths or tropical showers.  In true Bordeaux fashion, there is also a wine bar that offers blind wine tastings.  But my personal pick is the 5 star Hotel Burdigala.  Easy to access, located in the city center and newly renovated in 2012, Burdigala is worth the trip.  Sure, the chic, urban style helps, but the real reason this hotel is so interesting is their new "Inspired by Her" program.  Intended for men and women, the "Inspired by Her" program features healthy gourmet meals and fruit cocktails as well as additional cosmetic services offered such as nylons, make-up remover, etc. at the service desk and fitness options.  While this may sound a little sexist, the intent is to offer short or long-term travelers options that suit their lifestyles so they a trip may not throw off their potentially health-conscious routines, making the Hotel Burdigala the most carefully considerate option in my book.

Looking to wait another year before you pack your bags and head to Bordeaux?  Even better.  Mid-2016, the Cite Des Civilisations Du Vin will open.  Serving as a cultural and informational center about the wines of the world, past and present, the Cite will span 10 floors and offer different wine-tasting workshops, an international wine boutique, a snack bar with an outdoor patio and a panoramic restaurant offering 360 degree views of the city on the 7th floor.  The cite will also feature different packages depending on what the visitor would like to see, digital guides in 8 languages, an auditorium and two international exhibitions annually.

A model of the proposed Cite Des Civilisations Du Vin

Another amazing place to visit is Biarritz.  Located in the heart of the Basque country, connecting France to Spain and offering visitors and locals alike the pleasures of the Atlantic Ocean coastline.  Described frequently as chic and glamorous, Biarritz is home to many cultural events like festivals and ballets as well as athletic events and great surfing.  Ranked as the number one beach in France, La Cote des Basques is actually the location where surfing was born in Europe due to American visitors in 1957.

Stay at the newly renovated Regine Hotel Sea & Spa for views of the Bay of Biarritz or the Lighthouse and amenities like the Biarritz golf course, a heated outdoor swimming pool, fitness room, spa and Restaurant No. 1 & Cafe N by Georges Blanc.  If that doesn't appeal to you, there is also The Hotel du Palais, the only palace hotel on the Atlantic coast, and the Salon Imperial, located inside, is notable.  The Salon features stunning contemporary architecture and decor, but still manages to hint at its past- when it was the favorite ballroom of sophisticated Europeans in the 1930's.

The Aquitaine region of France is beautiful, unique and ready to welcome you.  Start planning your trip now with the tourist offices of Bordeaux, Aquitaine or Biarritz.

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