Aquitaine is one of France's most absorbing regions. Stretching from the mountainous plains of the Massif Central in the north, dipping down to the central wine lands and rolling past a long stretch of Atlantic coastline before rising again into the Pyrenees in the south, Aquitaine is a region of great diversity and one that has plenty to offer visitors.
Aquitaine's best known area - to British traveller, certainly - is the Dordogne. This a gorgeous rural region, where sweeping valleys and vineyards hide small villages and market towns, where the pace of life moves so slowly they seem lost in time.
The region's cuisine is particularly outstanding, with walnuts, Périgord truffles - known as black diamonds - and duck confit taking centre stage. If it's wine you're after, then Bordeaux, Aquitaine's beautiful capital just south of the Dordogne, produces 900 million bottles of its wines a year, so there's plenty of tasting to be done.
Aquitaine's Atlantic coast, the Côte d'Argent, is the longest sandy coastline in Europe. It stretches from the old resort town or Arcachon in the north to the popular surf spots of Biarritz in the south. With such a long sandy shoreline it's worth steering away from the more-crowded holiday hotspots from time to time. There, on a secluded sweep of sand or sheltered by a windswept dune, lay down a towel and soak up the sun, to the sound of the rolling Atlantic. Bliss.
And then in Aquitaine's southern reaches, where the Atlantic coast meets the Pyrenees, visitors can ski in the winter months. With so much to see and do, it's worth allowing plenty of time for Aquitaine, as memorable and as diverse a region as they come.