THE REGION

The varied Aquitaine region includes not only the prehistoric caves, villages and rolling river valleys of the Dordogne and the Bordeaux vineyards, but also the rocky Pyrénées mountain chain, the Basque country with its beautiful beaches, excellent surfing and picturesque fishing villages, the flat forest land of the Landes and the medieval castles and villages in Lot-et-Garonne.

The region's history began thousands of year's ago when Cro-Magnon man lived in the caves of the Périgord and left cave paintings in sites such as Lascaux and Les Eyzies. More recent remnants of Aquitaine's history date from the time of Eléonore of Aquitaine, consort of Louis VII, King of France. When she married Henry Plantagenet, who became King of England in 1154, she began several centuries of conflict between the French and English for control of Aquitaine. Today, the fortified villages and castles built during this time offer charm to the winding countryside and provide interesting stops along the road.

Bordeaux

Aquitaine's capital, Bordeaux, is a thriving port city on the Garonne River with beautiful 18th-century mansions and architecture, including its Grand Theatre by architect Victor Louis, excellent shopping, art galleries and numerous cultural events, such as the traditional May Music Festival.

The Vineyards

Bordeaux is particularly well known for its surrounding wine-growing region. Among the wines of the Bordeaux region there are three distinctive areas: Medoc, famous for its fine red wines; the left of the Garonne with Graves and Sauternes; Saint-Emilion and its surroundings, Entre-Deux-Mers, and Cotes de Blaye. Near Damazan are the excellent wines of Buzet and Bergerac, among others. Most chateaux open their doors to allow visits to their cellars and wine tastings, including the Buzet Caves, just ten minutes from Maison du Canal on the road to Buzet.

The Villages

Maison du Canal is surrounded by some of the most beautiful villages in France. Among these are Pujols, with its flower-decorated houses. The village of Pujols is only 250 yards long but is perched 600 feet up on a rocky ridge and is justifiably one of the "plus beaux villages of France."
Penne, filled with artists and their works and stone stairs lined with flowers.

Clairac, with a beautiful abbey, church and very old houses.

Villeneuve sur Lot. Sheltering war refugees and other victims made Villeneuve-sur-Lot a prosperous township, and by 1270 Villeneuve was encircled by stone and brick ramparts, complete with gates topped by high towers that were designed to represent the four points of a compass. It has a museum, excellent shops with the latest fashions, restaurants of all kinds and a remarkable square with a fountain circled by 13th Century houses.

Agen, just 25 minutes away, has wonderful shopping amidst old houses and churches, a museum and one of the oldest and most beautiful streets in France, the Rue de Cornières. Also only 30 minutes away is Vianne, a bastide town completely encircled by a wall.

Cuisine

The most celebrated regional specialty is foie gras. Confits (preserved goose and duck) are a key in a number of dishes. Fish and seafood, like carp stuffed with foie gras and mullet in red wine are also common. Oysters are served with tiny sausages or crepinettes. Meals are accompanied by the many fine wines of the region such as Medoc red wines, Graves dry whites or Sauterne sweet white wines and concluded with the region's Armagnac.

Market Days & Fairs

Maison du Canal is surrounded by towns with market days, just about every day of the week. All kinds of cheese, dozens of varieties of olives, freshly-cooked paella, fish, meats, patés and fresh, wonderful vegetables. Aiguillon - Tuesdays & Fridays; Clairac - Thursdays; Castelmoron-Tuesdays. All just a short drive. And there are farms nearby which sell fresh vegetables, fruits and cheese.

There are also all kinds of fairs and fètes: antique fairs, marionette shows, small circuses, classic car meets and dog shows.