South West

South West

This part of France, with Bordeaux at one end and Toulouse at the other, is defined by rivers of exceptional beauty: the Dordogne, Lot, Aveyron and Tarn, all of which meander down through dramatic gorges into sunny valleys of vines and orchards to join the big one – the Garonne – and the Atlantic.

Forget Paris, Lyon and Marseille – Bordeaux is amongst France’s most exciting, vibrant and dynamic cities, the city with everything. Wine capital of the world and, since 2016, it has also been home to the Cité du Vin wine museum, considered the best in the world.

One of France’s best kept secrets is the Entre-Deux-Mers, a lovely undulating plateau between the two estuaries, the Dordogne and the Garonne, hence its name. There are wonderful views from here overlooking the Garonne and of course some fantastic vineyards producing AOC Premières Côtes de Bordeaux.

Heading south, the next of the Garonne’s great tributaries is the Tarn sweeping down towards Toulouse. Towns along the Tarn such as Albi are built of red bricks, and red roofs that make you think of Tuscany. Toulouse is very pink!

Well served by airlines as it is the home of Airbus and many other aeronautical companies, Toulouse or Bordeaux are both excellent starting points from which to launch out on a voyage of discovery into South West France.

Lot et Garonne, Bordeaux’s neighbour, is bordered by Périgord, Quercy, the Landes and Gascony. Very rural and traversed by the two rivers from which it takes its name, this fertile orchard region, famous for the Agen prune, is crisscrossed by some 200 km of navigable waterways and 3,500 km of walking trails.  The east is dotted with castles and bastides similar to the Dordogne. Throughout, rugby is taken very seriously!

The Dordogne is set between the Loire Valley and Pyrenees mountains. With its rich food, heady history, château-studded, undulating countryside and picturesque villages, this really is a great holiday destination. The cuisine is sensational, combining a natural love for seasonal fruits of the land with duck, goose and one of the most luxurious foods known to mankind, black truffles. And of course, the vineyards, all along the languid twists and turns of the majestic Dordogne River itself. Bergerac is a fine little city where swans swim in the Dordogne and a cluster of medieval, half-timbered houses bask by the old river port.

Place Jules, Ribérac, Dordogne

Situated in the lively market town of Ribérac with five restaurants within walking distance and many others within 10 minutes by car.

£2,329 to £4,507 per week

Sleeps up to 10