Camping is a fantastic way to explore Aquitaine, a beautiful region located in southwestern France. Aquitaine is well known for its diverse landscapes, including stunning coastlines, rolling hills, lush vineyards, and charming villages.
In this article, we'll be focusing on the traditional historic region of Aquitaine, which includes the departments of Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, and Pyrénées-Atlantiques, rather than the new administrative region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.*
Welcome to Aquitaine
Camping in Aquitaine
Aquitaine offers a wide range of campsites, from basic sites to well-equipped facilities with amenities like swimming pools, playgrounds, restaurants, and shops. You can choose between coastal campsites or inland options, depending on your preferences.
The Aquitaine coast is famous for its long stretches of sandy beaches, dunes, and charming seaside towns. Camping near the coast allows you to enjoy activities such as swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and exploring the beautiful shoreline. Some popular coastal camping destinations include Hourtin, Labenne and Biscarrosse.
Spotlight on Hourtin
Hourtin is known for its large freshwater lake, Lac d'Hourtin-Carcans. This expansive lake is one of the largest natural freshwater lakes in France, covering an area of about 5,667 hectares. It offers a variety of recreational activities such as swimming, sailing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and fishing. The lake's beautiful sandy beaches are perfect for sunbathing and picnicking, and the calm waters make it suitable for families and water sports enthusiasts alike.
If you prefer a more tranquil camping experience, consider camping in the inland areas of Aquitaine. You'll find picturesque countryside, vineyards, rivers, and charming villages. The Dordogneregion is particularly renowned for its scenic landscapes and offers numerous campsites.
Lot-et-Garonne is named after the Lot and Garonne rivers, which flow through fertile valleys, creating a patchwork of vineyards, orchards, and sunflower fields. Visitors can explore the idyllic countryside, dotted with fortified bastide towns like Villeneuve-sur-Lot and Monflanquin, where medieval architecture blends seamlessly with the surrounding rural beauty.
Spotlight on The Dordogne
Also known as Périgord, this is a captivating area known for its enchanting landscapes, charming medieval towns, and rich history. The Dordogne River meanders through the region, carving stunning valleys and offering opportunities for leisurely boat rides. The area is dotted with picturesque villages such as Rocamadour and Beynac-et-Cazenac, where you can explore ancient castles, wander through narrow cobblestone streets, and savour the region's renowned gastronomy.
Aquitaine is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you're interested in hiking, cycling, fishing, kayaking, or horse riding, you'll find ample opportunities to engage in your favourite activities. Many campsites are located close to nature reserves, national parks, and rivers, making it easy to explore the region's natural beauty.
Landes de Gascogne Regional Nature Park: Located in the Landes department, this nature park is one of the largest forested areas in Europe. It is characterised by vast pine forests, wetlands, and sand dunes. The park offers opportunities for hiking, cycling, and birdwatching, and it is also home to the famous Dune du Pilat.
Marais d'Orx Nature Reserve: Situated near the Atlantic coast, this wetland reserve is a haven for birdlife. It comprises marshes, reed beds, and lagoons, providing an important habitat for a variety of bird species, including herons, egrets, and spoonbills. The reserve offers walking trails and observation points, allowing visitors to appreciate the abundance of birdlife in a tranquil setting.
Pyrenees National Park: Although the Pyrenees mountain range extends beyond Aquitaine, two of the park's western sectors (Secteur d'Aspe and Secteur d'Ossau) are part of the region. The Pyrenees National Park is a stunning natural area known for its rugged landscapes, including snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, and glacial lakes. It is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering opportunities for hiking, mountaineering, wildlife spotting, and even skiing in the winter months.
Leyre Delta Nature Reserve: Located in the Landes department, this nature reserve is situated around the mouth of the Leyre River. It consists of wetlands, marshes, and sand dunes, providing a diverse habitat for bird species and other wildlife. Visitors can explore the reserve by boat or on foot, following the designated trails that showcase the beauty of this unique ecosystem.
Aquitaine is famous for its culinary delights, including world-renowned wines, delicious cheeses, and fresh seafood. Take the opportunity to visit local markets, vineyards, and restaurants to savour the regional specialities.
Bordeaux, the capital city of Aquitaine, stands as a true gem for wine connoisseurs. With its elegant architecture, tree-lined boulevards, and vibrant riverside setting, Bordeaux exudes charm at every corner. It is not only a city of exceptional wine production but also a hub of gastronomic delights. Its restaurants offer a diverse range of culinary experiences, from traditional French cuisine to innovative fusion dishes, all paired perfectly with local wines.
Spotlight on Bordeaux
Bordeaux is an absolute must-visit, renowned for its world-class wines and charming architecture. Take a stroll through the historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and admire the elegant 18th-century buildings. Don't miss the iconic Place de la Bourse and the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. Wine lovers should explore the surrounding vineyards, where you can indulge in wine tastings and learn about the winemaking process.
Aquitaine boasts a rich cultural heritage with historic sites, castles, and prehistoric caves.
Sarlat is a beautifully preserved medieval town, renowned for its exceptional architectural heritage and is often considered one of the most picturesque towns in France. The town's narrow cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and well-preserved buildings from the 14th to 16th centuries create a charming atmosphere. The central square, Place de la Liberté, is a vibrant hub with lively markets and cafés.
Aquitaine enjoys a mild and pleasant climate. Summers are generally warm, with average temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). However, it's always a good idea to check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.
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Map of Aquitaine
In 2016, Aquitaine merged with the regions of Limousin and Poitou-Charentes to form the new administrative region called Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
Nouvelle-Aquitaine is now the largest region in France, covering a significant portion of southwestern France. It encompasses several former regions, including Aquitaine, Limousin, and Poitou-Charentes. Find out more about the Regions of France.
Editor - Alan Rogers Guides
Rob has been involved in the leisure industry since completing a BTEC in Travel & Tourism in 1993. Previous roles have included the promotion of tourism in Yorkshire and running a motorcycle touring company in the Australian Outback.
He is the General Manager at Alan Rogers Travel Group, responsible for the ongoing development of the Alan Rogers website and the publication of the Alan Rogers Guides and 'Destinations' magazine.
He regularly travels with his wife and young daughter in their Dethleffs 'Campy' caravan. A keen cycling fan, Rob can often be found in a field in Belgium during the 'Spring Classics' season or riding his Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle.
There are some impressive places on the list in France, as you can well imagine, such as Chatres Cathedral, the Palace of Versailles and the fortified city of Carcassone. So why not plan your next trip across the Channel to visit some of these sites, they’ve been given this status for a reason, so you know you’re in for a treat!
I well remember visiting the Dordogne (as we British usually refer to it) for the first time and feeling I’d discovered a little piece of paradise. There was so much to take in and everything seemed just so, well, perfect.