Surrounded by the green of the vineyards, near the ocean, the forest and the mountains, Bordeaux rises proudly on the banks of the Garonne.
The Port de la Lune, unites the heart of the city around its crescent shape (its shape inspired the Bordeaux coat of arms). And while most of its commercial activity and installations have been transferred downstream to the estuary (the largest in Europe) to accommodate larger vessels, the harbour now attracts a growing number of cruise liners and pleasure craft.
Less than an hour away lie the Atlantic Ocean and its endless beaches of white sand (dominated by the Pyla Dune, the highest in Europe, which marks the entrance to the Bassin d'Arcachon). These give way to the immensity of the Landes forest, the largest forest in Europe and a haven of peace that offers endless opportunities for walkers and hikers.
In turn, the forest gives way to the vineyards and their 4,000 châteaux - with grape vines omnipresent. Surrounded by the Médoc and the Côtes de Bourg et de Blaye to the north, Saint-Emilion, Pomerol and Entre-Deux-Mers to the east and, finally, by Graves and Sauternes to the south, Bordeaux even has flourishing vineyards that encroach on the Metropolitan area itself, where there are still a few prestigious wine-producing châteaux.
Tim moves on... and if you are interested in history, it's well worth making a detour through the Périgord. The region is outstanding for its prehistoric sites (like the Grottes de Lascaux) and its many mediaeval villages and castles. Allow yourself to be tempted by a tasting session - cognac in Charente or Armagnac in d'Artagnan Country. By following this route, you come naturally to the gateway to Spain, where you will hesitate between the particular charm of the Basque Country and the attractions of Béarn, stronghold of Henri IV, and the unspoiled open spaces of the Pyrenees.