The Southwest includes the Bordeaux area, Béarn and the Basque Country, in addition to Gascony and Aquitaine. It is a land of contrasts, with large agricultural and forest plains beside sharply indented massifs and sunny seaside resorts, while vineyards cover much of the countryside. A bountiful land, like its inhabitants who are excessively keen on good food and local produce and have an age-old tradition of hospitality.
If the stones of Cordouan Lighthouse or the towers of La Rochelle could talk, they would tell tales with the flavor of salt spray, nourished by exotic shores and peopled with ardent seafarers. The boats that bob in the water by the banks of the Gironde and the wharves of La Palice and Île de Ré today were preceded by formidable sailing ships. From the ports of La Rochelle and Bordeaux they set out on long voyages to the colonies, threading their way between Ré and Oléron through the Passage of Antioch, named after an ancient city of the Middle East. This was a point of departure to the faraway Americas or neighboring England - the first country to take a keen interest in the wines of Bordeaux. Even the neighboring Poitou region, firmly anchored in its rich terroir, was affected by the desire for adventure: its House of Lusignan reigned over Cyprus for nearly three centuries.
“Just to glimpse the black, mysterious river at Domme from the beautiful bluff is something to be grateful for all one’s life,” wrote the American novelist Henry Miller after seeing the landscapes of the Dordogne. From its source in the Massif Central, the river winds across the Périgord from east to west, nurturing along its banks a spectacular collection of beautiful villages: Domme protected by its pale stone fortifications, La Roque Gageac at the foot of its limestone cliff, the castles of Castelnaud la Chapelle and Beynac et Cazenac. And of course the timemachine atmosphere of Sarlat, with its narrow streets, its traditional markets where business is conducted in a blend of French and Occitan. A land of plenty. “I believe that the Cro-Magnon man settled here because he was extremely intelligent and had a highly developed sense of beauty,” Miller added, in reference to another marvel: the painted cave of Lascaux, the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistory.”
Hotel and restaurant in the country. Protected by the village’s medieval church and in the shade of old plane trees, stands this beautiful 18th century charterhouse. The stone arcades of its sand colored frontage invite you to discover an elegant succession of living and dining rooms. An afternoon by the fireplace in the library, a summer night dining under the lime-tree, tasting Armagnac from its vineyards, nestled in its soft sofas: all this generous joy, real hymn to the delicious products of Gascony, matches the harmony of its luminous simplicity. In the gardens, benefit from the expert treatments provided at the Thermal Spa. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in the country. A small country palace, on the borders of the Landes and Béarn regions, a romantic haven, a feast for the senses, for pampering your body and letting your mind wander. This family home is an invitation to happiness. Fairytale gardens, aristocratic abode and symphonic cuisine. In this small village, once placed under the patronage of Empress Eugénie, herb gardens, majestic trees and ancient roses line the pathway to a stunning spa, La Ferme Thermale®. In the kitchen, Michel Guérard, who "cooks the way a bird sings", creates celestial marvels. Everywhere else, Christine casts her poetic touch. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a village. Wine enthusiasts will instantly recognise the name Saint-Émilion as one of the principal appellations of Bordeaux. Savour some great wines at the Hostellerie de Plaisance, where hosts Chantal and Gérard Perse warmly welcome guests to their elegant but relaxed retreat with stunning views of the vineyards as well as the medieval village, a Unesco World Heritage site. The interiors are an excellent blend of sophistication and comfort. At the restaurant be spoiled by the cuisine of the chef, who draws inspiration from the fresh food markets and the treasures of local farmers. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a village. Author Henry Miller knew and loved France better than many French people. He was always in search of, inspirational locations. He originally planned to spend a week at this hotel in the heart of the black Périgord but ended up staying a month. Inside the former tobacco drying barn that has been converted into a dining room or outside under the linden trees, Miller’s spirit lives on. Like the author, you will appreciate the tranquillity of this former priory with its lovely gardens, babbling brook and natural pool in which you can swim. While away the hours in a relaxed atmosphere until dusk approaches and it is time to do a tasting of some fabulous regional wines. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in a vineyard. On the route of the châteaux, close to Château Lynch-Bages, grand cru classé of Pauillac, this 17th century charterhouse invites you to discover true art de vivre. Around a garden, the bright guestrooms with their muted, timeless décor, the pool, the sauna and the terraces near the vineyards create a haven of well-being. In the dining room, two-star Chef Jean-Luc Rocha, Best Craftsman of France, refines the products of the South West and proposes a delightful dialogue between a contemporary cuisine and the Bordeaux grand crus. Visits to châteaux, tasting classes, elaboration of own wine, strolling with the family in the village… Share the savoir-vivre of Epicurean Médoc. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a park. A former monastery and listed historical monument, the Prieuré d’Orsan invites you on a journey back in time. Far from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, there are no phones or televisions here. Nestled in a wooded valley in Berry, this charming hotel has spacious and inviting rooms. They all boast breathtaking views of the magnificent Orsan Gardens. Extending over three hectares, these gardens inspired by medieval illuminations feature stunning architecture and orchards, herb and vegetable gardens that produce ingredients for the culinary delights served in the restaurant. The art of hospitality is well cultivated here. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. Between Cognac and Bordeaux, two renowned wine-growing regions, this Renaissance-style château enjoys a commanding position in the heart of a superb eight-hectare park overlooking the Gironde estuary. You lose all sense of time in this residence which boasts a past which is rich in art and history, with its exquisite fabrics, antique furniture and crystal chandeliers. Château de Mirambeau, which expresses a French art de vivre that is sophisticated yet unpretentious, offers delightful gourmet cuisine. When evening comes, one of the most fascinating rooms in the château, the “Cognathèque”, is the ideal place if you want to taste wine and the best cognacs. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on a river. The towers of this château are so close to the river that it feels as if they are floating on it. Located between the Lot, known as the “land of marvels”, and the Dordogne, home to more than one thousand châteaux, the Château de la Treyne is the ideal base from which to set off and explore this fascinating region. The Chef adapts the cuisine of the terroir, based on foie gras or lamb from the Causses du Quercy nature park. A delicious dinner can be enjoyed in the Grand Louis XIII Salon, or on the terrace overlooking the Dordogne. Breathe in pure, fresh air and look around wide-eyed to take in this extraordinary setting. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in a village. This 19th century mansion combines all that is great about the southwest of France and the Landes, the country of dunes and wide open spaces. The scent of the sea pines drifts over those relaxing by the swimming pool or on the white sandy beaches, only a few kilometres from the Relais de la Poste, or those surfing the famous waves of the Landes coast. Chef Jean Coussau concocts with great talent flavorful gourmet recipes originating from the region between the Basque Country and Bordeaux, with its wealth of exceptional products, like Adour lamprey, hot duck foie gras with grapes, sand asparagus from the Landes or Gillardeau oysters on a bed of chanterelles. ... Learn moreless