To marvel: to be filled with a sentiment of admiration and surprise. Synonymous with wonder, for the wonder in your eyes and smile. Just the right time for a souvenir snapshot!
I believe I can breathe
Freedom: being subjected to no external constraints. It's an all-essential holiday component, the notion of getting away from it all. The vast stretches of nature, the warm ambience and the sheer variety of leisure activities ensure this sense of well-being.
I'm having fun
Have fun: enjoy entertaining occupations. Strolling, hanging out, entertaining yourselves It's the very essence of the holiday spirit!
Serene: synonymous with lovely, radiant, peaceful, tranquil, basking in South-West sunshine. Our festive spirit defines our region, yet there are plenty of places that are ideal for chilling out.
Keep on moving, keep on groving !
Vitality: quality of living beings and groups demonstrating high levels of energy and dynamics. Vitality of an art form or culture, like right here! The Basque country has preserved its language dating from the Palaeolithic era, along with its culture.
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With his grey moustache and laid-back smile, Gerhard Geigle is a regular at the Centre Héliomarin in Montalivet. « I have been coming for 40 years! The first time was with my parents and sister in 1975. I was ten. Nowadays, I bring my wife, Heike and our children. We come for two weeks in the spring and four weeks in the summer » ecounts this 50-something German.
« What I like is that we're all the same! People can be really different elsewhere: young, old, fat, skinny, beautiful, ugly, black, white, rich, poor, of all nationalities, all social classes. But here there are no differences: we are naked, we are all the same » explained this dyed-in-the-wool naturist.. « Even if my wife pulls on a sarong for the photo » he laughs. For him, the natural beauty of the region and the Atlantic are bonus attractions at Montalivet. « We are always outdoors, in the garden, on the terrace, or at the beach » the father explained.
For the youngsters, the Centre Héliomarin is a place to enjoy an international atmosphere. « We have friends of all nationalities: British, French, German, Dutch, Spanish: it's a multilingual community » enthused Max, 14. « NWe really feel free: we can go cycling, to the beach or the pool, surfing, playing tennis, table-tennis, reading, or just laze about » the teen continued. « For us as parents, it's great that the kids can enjoy so many activities. This gives us time for ourselves, and for intimacy » emarked Gerhardt. For this family no doubt, the CHM Montalivet symbolises international, family naturism !
« It's a true classic in Aquitaine surfing clubs: the children love taking courses with their parents, and the feeling is mutual » remarked Manech, Manager of the Hendaia surfing school in Hendaye
Take Robin, 12: thrilled to be taking the same lessons as his Dad, Frédéric, 39. « I love bracing the waves and being in the water. Especially given how much warmer the water is than at home » the young guy from Nantes laughed. « What I like best is learning to surf with my Dad » he added.
« On the Basque coast, surfing is a national sport, second only to Basque pelota! And it's just wonderful to share this with my son. We don't get many chances to do it the rest of the year. So it was obvious that we'd do it on holiday here. And now we've caught the bug » confided Frédéric.
Manech, Robin et Frédéric
Christine Coutant and Thierry Monfort are cycling enthusiasts: they took the Vélodyssée® from Le Verdon to Hendaye. This Breton couple started out in Nantes. « We couldn't wait to get to Aquitaine, with the magnificent forest, the fresh smell of the pines and the greenery. We really loved this environment, we really felt like we were getting away from it all as we enjoyed the wide open spaces.
It's not at all monotonous » explained Thierry, a fifty-something executive. « The landscape is changing all the time. We were cycling through natural landscapes practically all the time, and we felt like we had escaped! It was almost like meditating, or going on a pilgrimage, communing with nature » confirmed Christine Coutant, an athletic forty-something.
« There's the effort you put in, pedalling for 70 kilometres a day over an average of 7 hours a day, both an inner adventure and an opportunity to explore this lovely region » explained Thierry Monfort. « When we got here, we didn't feel like stopping, we wanted to forge ahead » he confided. When we asked the two cyclists for a tip, they immediately replied : « Just go ».
Christine et Thierry
« I just love this cruise on the Garonne, visiting vineyards along the way ». Robert Sellex, BBC cameraman, is plainly delighted. He took advantage of a few days at a loose end to take a break in Bordeaux with friends. It was only a 90-minute flight from Liverpool.
On the agenda: a visit to Saint-Emilion followed by a Médoc wine-tasters cruise with « Bordeaux River Cruise ». « It makes for a complete break, a great getaway. We started by exploring Bordeaux and the Gironde islands down the river. We've been tasting some excellent wines. We've seen some lovely châteaux from the boat: Beychevelle, Latour, Pichon-Longueville and so on. Our guide has clued us up on the history of Bordeaux, vineyards and wine. We had a magnificent, restful stopover on the island of Patiras, where we chilled out and climbed the lighthouse. We could see the Citadelle de Blaye, the docks and the church in Pauillac. We wound up with a visit to a wine-growing château, the vat-house and barrel storehouse, and learning to taste wine! It was a great day out! » enthused this 50-something Brit. His friends all agreed.
« Our idea of a holiday is camping! » Katia, Jans, Mette and Bannet Ohlmeyer are full of enthusiasm after a 2-week stay at the « Camping Resort & Spa la Rive », in Biscarrosse (Landes).
This German family chose their destination via Internet. « We wanted to try the Atlantic coast in south-west France and we were attracted to the open space and water parks, clubs for the children, and the nearby lake » explained Jans. « The children are thrilled with the water games and activity clubs. While they're having their fun, we parents enjoy hanging out together on the beach, cycling along bike lanes to the Dune du Pilat, jogging, and tennis » added Katia.
« It's a great way to relax » Jans pointed out. « here's all you need: a supermarket, a pleasant restaurant, a bar with excellent Bordeaux wine » the father added. « We love that it's modern and smoothly organised, with very good activities for the children » explained Katia. « e are having an excellent holiday and we'll be back next year! » they said in unison. The children applauded!
Katia, Jans, Mette et Bannet
Gudrun Geist won a trip to Bordeaux with a suggestion to mark the reopening of the Vienna to Bordeaux air link. She used it to extend her trip to the coast, in Médoc. Here is her enthusiastic account and constructive comments...
"Thank you for this wonderful prize and useful advice before leaving. We had a very pleasant stay in Bordeaux and took every opportunity to explore the city that has more to offer than its size suggests. The people are incredibly nice, friendly, willing to help and determined to contribute to a great stay for tourists.
We started on Thursday with a quick tour of the centre, as all the museums, guided tours etc. were closed or not available at the time we arrived. This gave us the opportunity to taste our first glass of wine and admire the water mirror day AND night. We also booked the walking tour and a trip to the vineyards of Graves & Sauternes for the next day at the tourist office.
The walking tour started at 10.00am on the Friday and the group size was really good, being quite small. Information about the reconstruction of the city was really interesting, as well as discovering the little hidden corners we would never have been able to find ourselves (like, for example, the little cinema in the old church). At 1.30pm, we took the bus south to see two very different wineries. In the first, there was unfortunately little to see, the production taking place in another building nearby. So it was more about being told than shown. In the second, however, we were shown all the stages of production and told about the differences between the traditional method and the modern method. Back in Bordeaux, we walked along the right bank of the city, with its botanical garden. On the guide’s recommendation, we chose the "Petit Commerce" restaurant for dinner – it was a dream.
On Saturday, we took in two markets (the Capuchins and the one near St Michel), then we went up to the top of several towers (Porte Cailhau, Flèche Saint-Michel, Tour Pey-Berland). We also had time for a quick tour of Aquitaine Museum. Finally, we made a last tour of the city by Visiotour, before continuing to Lacanau, where we spent a few days of splendid surfing.
As for the wine, I have to "congratulate" the region: I only used to drink white wine until then and systematically avoided red wine, but all the red wines we tested or drank in Bordeaux were really good. It was more difficult for us to find a white wine to our liking, as the region’s wines are sometimes very sweet, but we always found wines we liked.
To add a little constructive criticism:
The fact that the sites open only from 10.00am, are closed around noon and shut completely at 6.00pm makes it difficult to do a complete tour of the city with the CityPass. So we were a little rushed for time, but eventually, we could see everything we wanted to.
A very good addition to the CityPass would be free bikes (in the same way the batcubs, in addition to trams and buses, are already part of the offer), allowing you to explore the city in a different way."
Sarlat market on Saturday morning was a discovery full of flavours and joy. The stalls, the crowd, the sun, the colours, the atmosphere were lively and welcoming. Navigating the streets enjoying Périgord strawberries remains a lasting memory of my holiday in Aquitaine.
A hammock slung between two cork oaks, grass, gorse and heather, wooden chalets, flowers, a dreamy lake: welcome to the Camping du Lac, in Ondres, an eco-label establishment in Seignanx.
« he environment-friendly camping approach appealed to us, and we really appreciate it » remarked a smiling Cécile and Axel, who came from the north of France with their two daughters Maïlys and Lysa. « It's green, and it's calm! Silence is compulsory after 11.00 pm. Waste-sorting is very well organised and explained. It's a good educational experience for the children. We are enjoying nature to the utmost. And we are close to a family-friendly beach with a gorgeous panorama, the Basque mountains to one side and Capbreton on the other! » Unadulterated happiness !
Cécile et Axel
« I had the idea of offering my boyfriend and his son some vintage vines, as a gift to share with the family » recounted Marie-Claude Massé, from central France.
The adventure lasted nearly two years, starting in the spring with the preparation of the vine for a superior organic Bordeaux wine, at château Beau Rivage, in Macau. « The grape harvest with 15 other couples was very friendly» she laughed. Towards the end of the year, it was assembly time. « We tasted several vines to identify the tastes of chocolate and musk. Then we used little flasks to test various assemblies and find a wine we like. » The wine cannot be delivered until at least 18 months after harvesting.
ottling and adding the customised label is a moment of sheer delight when you read : « Cuvée Clémot père et fils » (Clémot & Son vintage). « They are really proud of their vintage » enthused Marie-Claude. This adventure will go down in family folklore.
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