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Cities in the southwest France: history, tourist sites, activities.

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Eight suggestions for touring the southwest of France.

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Traditional dish recipes from southwest part of France.

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France in facts and figures! Interesting less known facts about France

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Top Rated Tourist Sites in South West of France

Sainte Marie Cathedral, Oloron-Sainte-Marie

Sainte Marie Cathedral, Oloron-Sainte-Marie Sainte Marie Cathedral of Oloron-Sainte-Marie is listed since 1999 in the UNESCO’s World Heritage along with all the religious monuments on the route to Santiago de Compostella.
It is a monument that combines Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles.
The cathedral was built starting from the beginning of the 12th century on the order of Gascon IV, Viscount of Bearn on his return from the Holy Land Crusade.
The building was partially destroyed and rebuilt in the 13th and 14th century and was considerably...


Conques The village of Conques is nowadays listed as a "Grand Site de France". Its abbey together with the other sites on the road to Saint James de Compostelle is recorded in the UNESCO's World Heritage List.
The abbey of Conques is dedicated to Sainte Foy and once housed this saint's relics - now exposed in the treasure next to the ancient cloister.
Saint Foy - or Sainte Fides - was born in Agen in 290 AD. Being raised by a Christian nurse...

The Fortified City of Carcassonne

The Fortified City of Carcassonne Carcassonne citadel "Cité de Carcassonne" is the crown jewel of the southwest of France medieval fortified towns. It is the real fortress that Disneyland's or any other amusement park's castles (or the Excalibur casino in Las Vegas!) take as model. It belongs to UNESCO's World Heritage list since 1997.
Standing on a hilltop overlooking to the north the Aude river and to the south the vineyards of the Languedoc region, the "Cité of Carcassonne" is, with its 3kms of...

Arcachon and Pilat (Pyla) Dune

Arcachon and Pilat (Pyla) Dune Arcachon is a resort-town situated at around 70km west of Bordeaux, on the shores of the Arcachon bay.
Arcachon town was transformed in the middle of the 19th century from a fishers' village into an elegant marine resort by two businessmen, Emile and Isaac Pereire, who created the so called "Winter City" a district intended to be a true open sky sanatorium (the Pereires also extended the railroad from Bordeaux to Arcachon in order to facilitate the tourist influx).
Even Emperor...


Belvès Belves the medieval town so called of the 7 bell towers is a member of the "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" organization.
The written history of Belvès starts in the 9th century - even though the region was inhabited since antiquity - when a monastery is built of the site of the actual Notre Dame de Montcuq church. In the 11th century the village is fortified - from the old fortifications there still exist one of the gates and the tower...

Cirque de Gavarnie

Cirque de Gavarnie The little village of Gavarnie in the Hautes-Pyrénées department of south west France – situated at 1365 meters altitude, the highest village in the Pyrenees - is the place of not one but two UNESCO World Heritage listed monuments.
The first one is a natural monument and more known: it is the Cirque de Gavarnie.
The Cirque of Gavarnie is one of the most beautiful sites of the Pyrenees. It is a 6km in diameter and up to 1500 meters...

Collioure Castle And Village

Collioure Castle And Village The Royal Fort of Collioure was built initially by the earls of Roussillon starting in the 11th century.
Between 1276 and 1344 the castle was the residence of the Kings of Majorca. During this period the castle was extended and enhanced. In 1345 the castle was taken over by the king of Aragon Pedro IV. Starting from that time and until 1642 when the Spanish occupation ended the castle was little by little changed from a royal residence into...

Condom and Flaran Abbey

Condom and Flaran Abbey The town of Condom is situated in the department of Gers in Occitanie region of south west France, on the banks of the Baise river.
Condom is one of the most important towns of the ancient French region of Gascony, land of musketeer captain d'Artagnan, who inspired Alexandre Dumas' namesake character in the historic novel "The Three Musketeers".
While the town has 18 buildings listed as historical monuments by the Ministry of Culture of France the most important are...

Cordouan Lighthouse

Cordouan Lighthouse The Cordouan Lighthouse is not only the oldest lighthouse still in activity in Europe and the only lighthouse in the world located in open sea that can be visited but also a masterpiece of the 17th century architecture called also the "Versailles of the sea". It was selected in 2011 the third most admired monument in Aquitaine region after the Theatre of Bordeaux and the Beynac castle (source "Sud Ouest Le Mag").
The 67 meters (220 feet) high lighthouse, situated some...

Episcopal City of Albi

Episcopal City of Albi The Cité épiscopale d’Albi - The Episcopal City - with its crown jewel Sainte Cecile Cathedral is listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2010.
The complex includes the Cathedral, the Berbie Palace, the Saint Salvi Church, the Old Bridge and the old residential area of downtown Albi and covers a surface of 63 hectares.
Sainte Cecile Cathedral - 113 meters long, 35 meters wide and with a 78 meters high bell tower - is the biggest brick made Cathedral in...

Millau Viaduct

Millau Viaduct The Milllau Viaduct holds the record for the world tallest bridge with its highest pillar towering 343 meters above the Tarn River valley.
The masterpiece that the bridge is, is product of the collaboration between the French engineer Michel Vilrogeux (also designer of Ré Island Bridge, Jacques Chaban-Delmas bridge in Bordeaux etc.) and the British architect Norman Foster (designer of the London City Hall, Stansted Airport etc.).
It was built in exactly 3 years between December 12, 2001 the day...

Pau Castle

Pau Castle Pau Castle is the birth place of King Henri IV of France. At that moment the castle was the property of Henri' sgrandfather Henri II d'Albret King of Navarre. The legend says that when baby Henri was born his grandfather rubbed a clove of garlic and a drop of Jurançon wine on his lips in order to protect him from diseases (Jurançon is to this day the most famous wine of the region). The baby was placed then in a...

Saint André Cathedral

Saint André Cathedral Saint André Cathedral was initially built in the 12th century - when it replaced the former seat of the Bordeaux diocese that was there since 4th AD century - and then extensively renovated in the 16th century.
It is listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The cathedral was consecrated on the 1st of may 1096 by Pope Urban II, the champion of the First Crusade.
Saint André cathedral witnessed throughout centuries many events that marked the history of Europe. On the...

Saint Dominic House

Saint Dominic House Saint Dominic (or Dominique) founder of the "Order of the Preachers" more known under the name the Dominican Order, lived in Toulouse during different time periods between 1210 and 1216.
His first stay in Toulouse, between April 1210 and May 1211, was actually the longest and was prompted by the help that Fulk, bishop of Toulouse and a friend of Dominique's, needed in order to fight the spread of catharism.
Actually Saint Dominique first arrived in the region that is...

San Juan Bautista Church

San Juan Bautista Church The Church of San Juan Bautista - or Saint Jean le Baptiste - is known for its seventeenth-century altarpiece of gilded wood, probably the greatest in French Pays Basque and the memory of an exceptional event: the marriage here of the French kings Louis XIV and the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain, June 9 1660.
According to the memorial plaque on the exterior wall the door the pair entered the church was forever walled up being considered that...

Sarlat - Old Town

Sarlat - Old Town Sarlat, the American writer Henry Miller was fascinated by the town, calling it the "paradise of France".
With a population of just under 10,000 inhabitants Sarlat is situated in the department of Dordogne region Aquitaine of the South West of France. It is the "capital" of the old region of Perigord Noir. The little town has however 74 buildings on the register of historic monuments and in on the tentative list of UNESCO's World Heritage.
Sarlat grew around the...

The Cathedral of Saint Bertrand de Comminges

The Cathedral of Saint Bertrand de Comminges Saint Marie Cathedral of Saint Bertrand de Comminges is referred to as the Mount Saint Michel of the Pyrenees as a reference to the famous Mount of the North of France or as the Cathedral of the Pyrenees
The cathedral situated in the village of Saint Bertrand de Comminges - member of the "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" organization - on the top of a steep 515 meter (1700 feet) hill that dominates the valley that the Haute Garonne...

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