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.
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.
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.
||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.
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.