The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. (Marcel Proust)
Rediscover the everyday life scenescape in Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Let's start off here and take a look at the landscapes around us that create our living environment in a new light.
The sun, the wind, sea spray, clouds... vary the landscapes as time goes by. Here, in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, probably even more than elsewhere, as the region's relationship with nature is strong, characterized by respect.
Here, seasons come and go and offer our eyes a spectacle of the sea, the land, life that's forever renewed.
These natural landscapes that we live in on a daily basis - or during a getaway -, wouldn't be what they are without the work of human farmers, breeders, cereal producers, winemakers... who have worked the land for thousands of years, creating exceptional terroirs renowned throughout the world.
Without the combined work of humans and nature, there'd be no flowering meadows, no bocages lulled by the chirping of birds. No marshes reflecting the setting sun, no sheep-filled pastures, no gaily-coloured fields of cereal crops, no forests for wandering around under the shade of pine trees.
From the rolling lush green slopes of the Basque Country to the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrénées, from the wide-open expanses of Béarn to the deep valleys cutting through rock.
Nouvelle-Aquitaine mountains portray nature where pleasantness and harshness constantly converge.
This duality is softened by human work. The smooth lines of vineyards centre-staging the topography of the area. Pastures were herds sprinkled here, there and everywhere form mini constellations on hillsides and plains.
Here and there, you'll most likely come across a beating-heart-shaped lake, a wild river, a peaceful natural pond, a breathtaking vista over an endless space.
Isolated farms and small villages are interspersed across the scenescape, hideaways that invite to discover delicious specialities offered by these "regions at the edge of the world". Amongst other things, you'll discover: wines from Irrouleguy, Béarn and Jurançon, Basque cider, Estive cheese including the well-known Ossau-Iraty, Basque cold-cuts from Bigorre black pigs, Espelette pepper, and more. Perfect for satisfying your desires for authentic gastronomy.
In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, there's not just one sort of countryside but a host of different sorts.
And, even if their topography is ever-changing, they all share the same wood-scattered horizons. The infinity of prairies, merging into a patchwork of colours, veering from intense greens to ochres via the entire palette of yellows, create incredibly stunning landscapes.
These at times intimate and secret, at times wide-open to the great beyond scenescapes are criss-crossed by a myriad of little tracks where it's wonderful to get lost for a moment.
You'll encounter sheep, cows, goats and ewes, horses as well as ostriches: these landscapes have a host of surprises in store!
The fresh smell of humus and mushrooms, the whiff of dry hay and wildflowers. These landscapes are profoundly impacted by changing seasons and the work of the land. Labouring, cereal crops, legume crops, orchards, etc. come visit season-in, season-out, you'll imagine you're forever discovering this region anew.
Stroll through the markets, delight in the colours and blissful scents on the stalls. Taste the fruit of the work of producers who love their land and take pure pleasure in the best that Nouvelle-Aquitaine has to offer.
Far beyond land, where our gaze disappears into the midst of the horizon: the ocean reigns supreme.
Where kilometres of coastline join together yet are never the same. Steep cliffs, smoothly-curving dunes, long fine-sandy beaches, little creeks where fishing ports boasting colourful boats nestle...
You'll discover unusual grey and black mosaics sketched in the water (oyster beds) and little stakes where birds love to settle (these wooden stakes are known as "bouchots" in the region). You'll delight as day disappears in the mirrored reflections of the marshes and he sun plays hide and seek with the piles of salt.
Observe a boat gliding by out at sea on the horizon or the peaceful shadow of a "carrelet", a fishing hut suspended over the waves. The sand that sticks to toes and the pearly glints of the last rays of sunshine in the sea spray.
And, the ever-present sounds of the ocean, beach-grass swaying in the wind, the stillness of air filled with spray.
In the ports when the boats arrive, discover the gifts of the combined work of humans and the ocean as you stroll along market stalls or pay a visit to the colourful huts in oyster-farming villages: oysters, mussels, shellfish, sea samphire, seaweed, and more... you'll definitely leave there refreshed and delighted.
Nouvelle-Aquitaine's vineyards are reputed in the region and around the globe: Margaux, Saint Emilion, Sauternes, Bergerac, Cognac, Armagnac, to name but a few.
Their parallel lines centre stage the curves of the earth and create never-ending new perspectives. Horizons stretching out over the mountains, the hills, the ocean.
They bring landscapes to life whatever the season. Here, landscapes come to life through the work of humans, plantations, pruning, harvesting. At a glance, all these scenescapes appear to be identical yet they're never ever really the same.
At the heart of villages, behind the thick walls of estates, you'll discover the passion of winemakers who perpetuate one-of-a-kind know-how and love for the land generation after generation. Push open the doors of cellars and taste the nectar of the gods in a warm-hearted atmosphere.