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Driving holidays in Europe - Plan your self-drive motoring holiday

Tourist information for western France

Western France with its Atlantic coast is an excellent holiday area with something for everyone. It consists of Acquitaine, the Loire Atlantique, La Vendee, Poitou-Charentes, the Gironde and Les Landes. Seaside resorts line the coastline with long sandy beaches backed by dunes and pine forests. Inland, in countryside full of sunflowers and maize are slow rivers winding their way through rolling hills and steep gorges; perfect for swimming and easy canoeing. The small friendly towns have narrow picturesque streets and Romanesque churches. Most of France's great wines are grown here, especially the fine wines of the Medoc, the land behind the port of Bordeaux. Plenty of opportunities for vineyard tours and tastings.

Activities in Western France:

Walking, cycling, sea and river swimming, bird watching, wine tasting.

Special attractions in Western France:

Futuroscope cinematic adventure; Planetarium; la Lande - Europe's largest forest; the peninsular islands- Ile de Nourmoutier, Ile de Re, Ile d'Oleron; the Marais Potevin.

Towns in Western France:

Angouleme. Centre National de la Bande Dessinee - a museum dedicated to comic art and cartoons - a must for enthusiasts.

Arcachon. Popular seaside resort near Europe's tallest sand dune, The Dune du Pyle, and Le Teich bird sanctuary.

Bordeaux. This is an historic trading centre and port famous for its wine and is a bustling city with numerous cafes, bars and restaurants and plenty of cultural activity.

Cognac. Centre of the cognac industry and perpetually scented with its heady aroma. All the old buildings that store the fine brandy are stained with a black fungus that grows on the alcohol laden fumes (the 'angel's share'). This medieval town is a pleasant place to visit and a tour of the cognac makers such as Hennessey is well worthwhile, leaving you astonished at the far-sightedness of laying down the best wines for fifty years or more and the skill of the blenders in combining the best vintages.

Ile d'Oleron. Sandy beaches, pine forests, fort, oyster beds and bird park.

Ile de Nourmoutier. Beaches and site of ancient monastery with inland salt marshes.

Ile de Re. Pine-shaded beaches, white villas, oyster beds and a lighthouse.
La Rochelle
La Rochelle. This is a very attractive port with a pedestrian waterfront and free municipal bike hire. Plenty to do and see at the harbour and marina, the shops and aquarium and oceanographic museum. This is the place for fish restaurants.

Marais Potevin. An area of fens, meadows and inland waterways.
St. Germain
Poitiers. A charming hilltop town with its cathedral, the oldest Christian building in France (Baptistere St. Jean) and a subterranean chapel. There is also access to the Planetarium and Futuroscope, which are definitely worth a day out.

Saintes. To be seen for its narrow medieval streets, pilgrim churches and Roman ruins.

St. Emilion
St. Emilion. A fortified medieval village with houses of golden stone, its Eglise Monolith, ruined cloisters and tours of surrounding vineyards.