South West France
From the splendid imposing peaks of the Pyrénées, the Atlantic coastline on the west, well ordered fruit orchards and vineyards, higgledy-piggledy villages and medieval bastides, to lush river valleys and deep gorges, the variety of landscapes is impressive.
Our programme encompasses much loved destinations such as the Dordogne and the Lot, as well as possibly lesser known but beautifully authentic areas such as the Lot-et-Garonne and the Gers. We feature properties in the far south close to the Pyrénées, and the region stretches east to the picturesque 'départements' of Aveyron, Tarn, and Tarn-et-Garonne.
The outdoor life
South West France is a great place to enjoy outdoor pursuits such as cycling and walking, with good provision of marked walking trails, quiet country roads, and beautiful scenery to enjoy along the way.
There is usually a horse riding stables within reach of most properties, and outdoor activity centres offering treetop ropes courses and other adventurous activities.
You are never far from a river in this region, with the opportunity to go canoeing or kayaking. In the far south, the rivers may have white water sections, but elsewhere generally it is a case of easy paddling!
The Atlantic rollers on the west coast are ideal for all types of surf sports: surfing, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, and sand-yachting.
Fêtes and Markets
There are numerous events to enjoy throughout the year, with most villages and towns holding their own fête to honour a patron saint or a local speciality, and of course national holidays such as Bastille Day are celebrated everywhere. Concerts and music festivals abound – from classical and traditional music through to jazz, blues and rock.
Many towns hold evening markets in the summer months, which are popular with locals and visitors alike. The main squares are filled with food stalls selling regional dishes, and meals are eaten around long communal dining tables, often accompanied by live music.
The abundance of fruit, vegetables, local meats and cheeses at the markets bears witness to the importance of food in this region. In spring, the fruit of peach and plum trees is a staple of mouthwatering 'patisseries'. Locally produced confit of duck, Toulouse sausage, foie gras, and Roquefort cheese feature on many menus, and cassoulet, the famous hearty dish based on haricot beans and duck, has to be tried.
Seafood is excellent in restaurants by the coast, with inland restaurants serving locally caught river trout and salmon. From the renowned red wines of Bordeaux, the soft sweet wines of Monbazillac, reds from Duras and dry whites of the Jurançon, there is a wine for every palate. Full bodied reds are found in Cahors whilst the vineyards of Gaillac produce 'perlé' (a very slightly sparkling white) as well as some interesting reds and rosés. Follow a 'route du vin' circuit to sample the local wines with, of course, the opportunity to buy a few bottles to enjoy at the villa or back at home.
The gentle, temperate climate of this corner of France generally ensures that spring and autumn are mild and sunny, with daytime temperatures rising in the summer to the late 20s or low 30s on average.