Thursday, 19 July 2012 11:20 AM
If you're planning a cultural getaway that allows you to sample tasty delicacies, take in beautiful scenery and explore medieval settlements, then a boating holiday in Aquitaine is likely to tick all the boxes. Located in south-west France, the region is ideal for exploring by boat.
Follow the Canal lateral a la Garonne or the River Baise and make your way through the glorious landscapes of the Garonne valley. If you'd like to find out more about the destination, read on.
Food and drink
Aquitaine is renowned for its delectable dishes, and if you plan to pay a visit there are a couple of delicacies you won't want to pass up. Truffles and foie gras are particularly popular, and you can wash down your meal with a world-famous wine, such as Medoc, St Emilion, Graves or Margaux.
During your getaway, call in at the town of Agen, which is known as the home of the prune. Here, the fruit is served in a variety of ways, including baked, stuffed and coated in chocolate. If you visit at the end of August, you can witness the Prune Show, which comprises feasting, music, dancing and much more. Journey on to Nerac afterwards and you can visit the chocolate factory to see just how the sweet treat is made, and perhaps sample some for yourself.
Aquitaine has more than its fair share of historical landmarks, and a must-visit during your break is the cloistered Benedictine abbey, which was constructed between 628 and 648. Another structure worth taking in is the fortified watermill at Barbaste, which dates back to the 16th century. The edifice has four towers, each dedicated to one of King Henri IV's four daughters and built in different styles.
Explore the town of Montech as part of your holiday and you'll find a couple of landmarks here too, one of which is the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation. Built in the 15th century, the building has an organ and 17 bells. Also in the vicinity is the water lift, a contraption designed so that larger boats can avoid having to use a number of locks to get around.
Other sites of note are the awe-inspiring arched aqueduct at Cacor and the old bridge in Montauban, which dates back to the 11th century and affords some stunning views over the water, while the Chateau Henri IV in Nerac is worth a visit to take a look at the model it houses of the castle in its former glory.
During your visit to Le Mas D'agenais, stop off at the church to admire a painting by world-famous artist Rembrandt, and head on to Agen to visit the Fine Arts Musuem. The latter houses decorative art, archaeological relics and paintings by well-known names like Sisley, Goya and Tintoretto.
There are many medieval villages dotted throughout the Aquitaine region, one of which is Castets En Dorthe. Moor up here and spend some time admiring the 12th century chateau and strolling through the terraced gardens before exploring the Romanesque church. Meilhan Sur Garonne is another spot worth visiting if you have an interest in history; here, you can admire ancient ramparts, a 12th century chapel and the remains of a Gallo-Roman citadel.
Head on to the small village of Le Mas D'agenais and you'll be able to view a 11th century church, while the bastide town of Valence D'agen boasts an old church, public gardens and fountains, a dovecot and three washhouses alongside its traditional red brick houses.
If you enjoy strolling through flower-filled fields, or cycling along paths in lush woodland, Aquitaine is the place for you. There is plenty of opportunity for picturesque walks along the banks of the Canal des Deux-Mers. As you travel, you'll be able to admire vine-clad hillsides, cornfields and orchards. Alternatively, head to the oak forest of Agre, where you can take in the native flora and fauna or have a go at daring pursuits such as tree climbing using ropes and aerial runways.
A particularly notable feature of the landscape can be found in the Bay of Arcachon; the Dune du Pyla is Europe's largest sand dune and stands at 104 m high. From its summit you can admire views of the bay on one side and vistas of Landes Forest on the other.