In the heart of nature
Nouvelle-Aquitaine, with its vast natural spaces, is one big playground for the active holidaymaker, summer or winter. With its protected landscapes and heritage, four Regional Natural Parks (Millevaches, Landes de Gascogne, Périgord- Limousin, and Marais Poitevin), the Pyrenees National Park and spectacular sites such as dunes, marshes, and caves, the region is a source of constant surprises and delights.
For a “zero carbon” holiday, it is the ideal destination to indulge in the joys of nature through outdoor activities (hiking, cycling, horse riding, fishing, trail, white water, paragliding…). Many eco-labelled accommodations, from camping to hotels: 92 accommodations with the European eco-label in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
Three ideas for a relaxing stay in the countryside.
THE GR10, THE GREAT CROSSING OF THE PYRENEES
The famous GR10 hiking trail is made for those who love the great outdoors. It travels the length of the Pyrenees from Hendaye to Banyuls and takes two months to complete. For the Nouvelle- Aquitaine section (270 km), you will need about ten days, passing through Aïnhoa (one of the most beautiful villages in France) or the Maison de l’Ours in Etsaut. Crossing Basque villages with white and red facades and green valleys, the Col de La Pierre Saint-Martin and high altitude lakes to enter the heart of the Pyrenees National Park. You stop in gites, hotels, guest rooms or refuges. You can even camp under the stars.
From Hendaye to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port: Beginning at Hendaye on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, then crossing the first summit of the Rhune and the Basque villages of Sare, Aïnhoa, Bidarray. Irouléguy vineyard in sight, crossing Saint-Etienne-de-Baïgorry before arriving in Saint- Jean-Pied-de-Port.
From Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to La Pierre-Saint-Martin: from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to the summer pastures of Cize and Soule. Passage to Iraty.
From La Pierre-Saint-Martin to Arrens: Crossing the limestone plateau of La-Pierre-Saint- Martin before entering the Pyrenees National Park to discover the emblematic Pic du Midi d’Ossau.
To be planned: make the stopover Bidarray – Saint- Jean-Pied-de-Port then return by the train that winds through the Nive valley at the foot of the Basque mountains. Departure from Bayonne.
LAKE VASSIVIÈRE, THE OTHER CANADA
With its 1,000 ha, it is one of the largest lakes in the region, an extraordinary place for holidays and discoveries. Its forest landscapes, islands and peninsulas give the appearance of a small Scandinavian or Canadian landscape.
Don’t miss: The International Centre for Art and Landscape, dedicated to contemporary creation; the island of Vassivière; the beaches of Broussas or Auphelle…
To be planned: discovery of the lake by taxi boat, hiking along the shoreline path, outdoor activity (sailing, canoeing, water skiing, fishing, trail…), storytelling around the lake.
THE REGIONAL NATURAL PARK OF MILLEVACHES
Located in the northeast of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and the source of many rivers (Vézère, Vienne,
Taurion), it is made up of remarkable natural environments where peat bogs, moors, forests and meadows alternate. An ideal landscape to recharge your batteries.
Whatever the season, the park has a lot to offer nature lovers: sites and trails for discovery, numerous activities such as hiking, cycling, horseback riding, donkey riding, water sports and Nordic activities. It is home to fragile animal species, such as otters, and is a stopover for migratory birds.
Don’t miss: Lake Vassivière, the Longeyroux peat bog, the communes of Meymac, Felletin, Eymoutiers and Treignac, the four entry points to the park.
To be planned: cross-country skiing on the Domaine de Gentioux-Pigerolles, mountain biking from the Chamberet, or Eygurande bases, fishing in this place, which is the source of many rivers (Vézère, Vienne, Taurion…). The travel journal “Voyage(s) en Millevaches” lists the sites and interpretation trails to be discovered and is available in all tourist offices
ALL IN THE SADDLE FOR AN ACTIVE HOLIDAY
Nouvelle-Aquitaine is a surfing destination and a paradise for cycling enthusiasts. It boasts 4,200 km of cycle paths and greenways, 3,300 km of national roads and 1,500 km of EuroVélo roads. Beautiful rides can be found along the cycle paths, forest paths, towpaths and other greenways, not to mention the major European routes such as the Flow vélo; the Canal des 2 Mers; the Vélodyssée, which runs along the coast and the best surf spots, or the Scandibérique on the Way of Saint James. From the pine forests of the Landes to the vineyards of Bordeaux and Cognac, from the peaks of the Pyrenees to the hills of Gascony, Nouvelle-Aquitaine offers a diversity of landscapes, terroirs and cultural and sporting activities ideal for exploration on two wheels.
VÉLODYSSÉE, THE ATLANTIC
IN FREEWHEEL MODE
A classic route from Brittany to the French Pays Basque, the section in Nouvelle-Aquitaine extends 550 km from La Rochelle to Hendaye. Along the way there is no shortage of activities: swimming or water sports, discovering oyster beds and small fishing villages, going down the Huchet stream, visiting the major seaside resorts of La Rochelle, Arcachon, Biscarrosse, Biarritz. From Lacanau to Hossegor, from Biarritz to Guéthary, it is packed with must-visit destinations. There is time along the way to stow your bike and take a surfing lesson.
ROUTE 1: La Rochelle – Royan (132 km) From the port of La Rochelle, the route leads to Châtelaillon-Plage and the royal city of Rochefort, home port of the Hermione. After a few charming detours, cross the Seudre marshes and then the Marennes oyster beds and arrive in Royan through the pine forests.
ROUTE 2: Royan – Lacanau (82 km) Take the bicycles on board the ferry for the Royan – Le Verdon crossing. Discover the most beautiful seaside resorts of the Médoc Atlantique: Soulac-sur-Mer with its 1900s architecture, the naturist resort of Montalivet-les-Bains, and Hourtin and Carcans with their freshwater lakes ideal for family swimming. In the pine forest, cycle paths linking welcome stops lead to Lacanau, a surfer’s paradise.
ROUTE 3: Lacanau – Arcachon (79 km) From the Porge forest to the salt meadows, crossing the villages and oyster ports of the Arcachon Bay with their brightly coloured fishermen’s huts and narrow alleys. The itinerary goes around the basin to reach Arcachon from Cap Ferret. Sunset on the Dune of Pilat.
ROUTE 4: Arcachon – Capbreton (162 km) Between lakes and forests, ride along the most beautiful beaches, resorts and surf spots of the Côte d’Argent: Biscarrosse, Mimizan, Seignosse and Hossegor, to reach the lively port of Capbreton.
ROUTE 5: Capbreton – Hendaye (80 km)
An itinerary in the heart of the Pays Basque, from Bayonne, the proud capital, to Biarritz, following the Corniche road to Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye on the Spanish border.
ALONG THE WAY OF SAINT-JAMES
This is the French part of EuroVelo 3, the Scandibérique, a European cycle route linking Norway to Santiago de Compostela. In Nouvelle- Aquitaine, it crosses the Charentes, the Bordeaux vineyards, the Landes forest and ends in the Pays Basque at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port,
on the Way of Saint-James. Between plains and hills, historic cities and protected natural areas, the Scandibérique is an invitation to travel. Two sample routes:
ROUTE 1: Angoulême – Libourne (150 km) Leave Angoulême, city of the Comic Strip and the Image, then make a gourmet stopover in the village of Barbezieux and ride by the Touvérac ponds. Continue through the countryside and stop for a tasting in the Cognac houses. The next day, explore the vineyards around Saint-Emilion, a medieval jewel whose wine-growing landscape is classed by UNESCO. End the day in Libourne. ROUTE 2: Agen – Mont-de-Marsan (120 km)
A trip to the heart of the Lot and Garonne Valleys, to discover the villages of Barbaste, Nérac and Poudénas. Continue to the Landes – Armagnac forest with a visit to Labastide d’Armagnac for a tasting and gourmet break in Villeneuve-de- Marsan. End the day in Mont-de-Marsan, the city of three rivers known for its fairs and its historical heritage.