Diverse and exotic, the culture in the south-west of France is much different from the Parisian way of life. As a part of France that was independent for centuries before being taken in by the rest of the country, that strong sense of sovereignty is still noticeable today. With an enduring regional identity, the south-west has great proximity both to the sea and the mountains, not to mention robust cuisine.
Similar to the countryside of south-west England, south-west France has the Pyrenees on the horizon, plus the ability to cross the border into Spain. Many people in the south-west feel connected to their Spanish neighbors to the south, more so than to their Parisian neighbors to the north. You may even notice that south-west residents roll their tongue when speaking French, similar to Spanish pronunciation.
Locals in the south-west enjoy everything from outdoor adventures like mountain climbing and skiing to tranquil spa villages and even historic sites like the Gallo-Roman ruins. This region has more parkland than the rest of France, including 200,000 acres in Pyrénées National Park. Every small village has a town market with fresh produce, and there’s a strong artisan influence, since craftsmen and artists moved from the colder climates up north. There are also more days of sunshine here than in the rest of Europe.
14 Notable Locations in South-West France
France’s Atlantic coastline has stretches of sandy beaches and plenty of offshore fishing. The climate is mild or warm most of the year, with the occasional rainy day. In the far reaches of the south-west, the coastline has been built up with seafront development, but when you move away from the town, there are expanses of untouched coastline.
1. World-renowned vineyards throughout Bordeaux make it the world’s most influential wine district. Combined with the Aquitaine region, the area produces some of the best and most expensive wine in the world. Bordeaux is also considered to be a leading gastronomic city.
2. Gironde, where Bordeaux is located, is a favourite place for buying wine, and to the south are miles of sandy beaches.
3. Saintonge, which is north-west of Bordeaux, is the home of Cognac and Pineau, plus historic churches that have medieval carvings.
4. South-west of Bordeaux is Les Landes, Western Europe’s largest, continuously forested area.
5. An exceptional location for epicures, local cuisine in the Aquitaine wine region includes foie gras truffles made from goose or duck liver, as well as fresh oysters.
6. The Atlantic Ocean regulates the temperature of south-west France, keeping it comfortably warm year-round. Average temperatures are 14 degrees celsius in the winter, 22 degrees in the spring and autumn, and 27 degrees in the summer.
7. Certain vineyard properties may have in-production vines as well as unused land with the opportunity to plan additional vines.
8. Inland from Bordeaux is the Dordogne department. The town of Périgueux is famous for cuisine and farmland, and the area is full of pretty towns and villages where people go on holiday. Dordogne’s Périgord Noir is one of the most popular areas of the south-west, with amazing scenery and ambiance.
9. When you purchase a luxury home in Aquitaine, France’s third largest region, you’ll be near Europe’s longest beach, plus natural hot springs, the Dordogne river, and numerous lakes.
10. The inland region of the Midi-Pyrénées is home to historic Gascony, a big rural area with rolling hills and plains, plus medieval bastides.
12. The Pyrénées-Atlantiques is a vibrant area with festivals during the summer.
13. In the north of the region is the unspoiled area known as Quercy, with small, historic towns like Cahors, plus oak forest and limestone gorges.
14. The distinguished university city of Toulouse is considered the best place to live by the French.
Many areas in the south-west are not yet overrun with tourism, making it a perfect buyer’s market with reasonable prices. Popular area homes include Perigourdine and stone structures, plus “fairytale” chateaux. French property in the south-west is ideal whether you want somewhere to live year-round or are looking for a holiday home.