As the ultimate region for outdoor sports, Nouvelle-Aquitaine will wow you and be sure to fulfil all your desires:
• 4,200 km of bikeways,
• 51,000 km walking trails,
• 800 km of bridle paths,
• 750 km of coastline to delight in water-based sports like sailing and surfing (spots reputed as some of the finest in the world),
• over 90 golf courses spread across the region, including exceptional courses,
• 5 Regional Nature Parks for lovers of 100% outdoor sports experiences, like trekking, horseback riding, a range of mountains for winter sports, extensive sports-centred lakes and rivers for canoeing-kayaking, and much, much more.
The Region also stands out for hosting national and international sporting events and sports stars: World Master Rowing Championship in Libourne, Wildwater Canoeing World Championships on the Vézère in Treignac in 2022, World Championship Tour (surfing), 2023 Rugby World Cup, 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games (football events in Bordeaux), etc.
On the crest of the wave
With 750 km of Atlantic coastline, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region is home to many of Europe's best surfing spots. The powerful ocean waves are a major attraction for national and international competitions: Open de France, World Championship Tour, Quicksilver and Roxy Pro, etc.
To experience the thrills of riding the waves, from initiation-discovery through to perfecting your skills, a myriad of surf schools and clubs propose a wide range of services for different ages and levels. For example, discover surf schools in the Landes awarded the French Qualité Tourisme® label.
There are also surf schools galore along the Biarritz-Basque Coast.
And, don't miss the chance to find out about great ideas for surfing getaways that mix several different experiences: more information here
The Charentes coastline, from the rocky shores of Île de Ré and Île d'Oléron to the beaches of the Wild Coast near Royan, also have a host of surprises in store for thrillseeking surfers!
💡 To find out more, check our section on surfing
Nouvelle-Aquitaine's coast is also paradise for fans of sailing, canoeing, rowing, sea kayaking, waterskiing, sand yachting, diving, kite surfing, hydrofoiling and other water sports. There's something for everyone, for every level and for every season in Nouvelle-Aquitaine!
Between the ocean, the rivers and lakes with their tiny waves and gentle breeze, there's a host of water-based pleasures to enjoy in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Among the lakes, we can mention Carcans-Hourtin-Maubuisson Lake, a real inland sea covering some 6,000 hectares and Vassivière Lake totalling 1,000 hectares, resembling a mini Canada in the heart of the Millevaches Regional Nature Park, heaven for fishing and water-based activities.
Homeland of the oval ball
Since the end of the 19th century, Nouvelle-Aquitaine has been closely linked to rugby. The game arrived from England and spread rapidly across France via the ports of Bordeaux and Bayonne, where English sailors passed on their love for the game to their French counterparts. The first club was created in Bordeaux in 1877 and, since that time, the sport has developed throughout the region and counts a host of outstanding players. Five of these clubs rank among the 14 top French professional rugby clubs: Biarritz, Bordeaux-Bègles, La Rochelle, Brive and Pau. The buzz in the stands, the matches and the after-match celebrations...
So many exciting moments to share, along with supporters of the other teams, like the Irish, the British and the Italians, who come to Nouvelle-Aquitaine to watch European competitions. So, come along and enjoy the rhythm of rugby! Nouvelle-Aquitaine inhabitants welcome you to pass on their passion for the oval ball to you and invite you to discover the lifestyle that goes with it.
💡 To find out more, check our section on rugby
Focus on the World Cup, in September 2023, Bordeaux will host 5 matches during the Rugby World Cup organized in France. 600,000 foreign visitors are expected in France and in Bordeaux, world-renowned teams are set to play, including South Africa, triple World champion as well as Ireland and Wales. The whole region will be flying rugby colours high, 3 base camps will accommodate national teams during the competition and there'll be events and festivities across every region, less than a year before the 2024 Olympic Games.
Did you know that you can visit the rugby museum in Bayonne?
Eldorado for bikes
There's a host of ways and a great variety of itineraries for discovering Nouvelle-Aquitaine by bike. Nouvelle-Aquitaine boasts some 4,200 linear kilometres of bikeways and greenways, 3,300 km of national trails and 1,500 km of Eurovélo cycling routes. From the Landes Forest, along the Atlantic coastline, through Pyrénées mountain passes, across Dordogne or Lot and Garonne valley scenescapes, to towpaths along the Canal des Deux Mers, there's a myriad of trails that invite to discover our region and meet local people.
With the boom in slow tourism, Nouvelle-Aquitaine stands out for its incredible European, national and regional bikeways and for the excellence of the routes it offers cyclists (in particular in terms of safety). Many tourism players in Nouvelle-Aquitaine (accommodation, restaurants, renters, visitor sites, tourist offices, etc.) have been awarded the "Accueil Vélo" label (Cyclists welcome) that ensures that hospitality is friendly and services are of prime quality along the bikeways.
Everyone knows the famous slopes of the Pyrénées mountain passes that Tour de France competitors cycle up every year. There are also regional events like the Tour du Limousin and Poitou-Charentes. Yet, Nouvelle-Aquitaine overflows with bikeways across the region, including: La Vélodyssée, La Scandibérique, La Flow Vélo, the Canal des Deux Mers, to name but a few, that will delight young and old alike.
💡 To find out more, check our section on biking and hiking
Horses, an age-old passion
The Nouvelle-Aquitaine region is the birthplace of several breeds of horses such as the Pottok, the Anglo-Arabian, the Landais pony, the Poitevin draught horse as well as the Poitou donkey. It also has four national stud farms, which have embodied the history of horses for several centuries, as well as thirty-two racetracks. Lots of horse-based activities are on offer throughout the region: roaming loop/star trekking breaks lasting several days, hour or day-long rides, horse and carriage or cart rides, family-friendly donkey treks, stays for children and teenagers, Western-style riding, polo, races, not to mention the three Olympic disciplines available in many riding centres (dressage, jumping and eventing). For more info, visit the Regional Equestrian Committee site
Nouvelle-Aquitaine is also home to prestigious equestrian events, including: the 5 Étoiles de Pau, the only 5-star eventing competition in France, and the Jumping International de Blaye and the Jumping International de Bordeaux, the Haras de Pompadour (Pompadour National Stud Farm) in Corrèze, one of the most reputed equestrian event venues in France.
Nouvelle-Aquitaine boasts over 90 golf courses, including the oldest greens in continental Europe (Pau, 1856) making it the top-ranking French destination for the number of courses.
The region overflows with exceptional golf courses, from highly-entertaining to ultra-technical greens and fairways, overlooking the ocean or in the shade of pines, set in the middle of the vines or among the dunes, with some imagined by renowned architects, which will delight amateur and seasoned golfers alike. Enjoy a round of golf on the greens of the Golf du Médoc near Bordeaux, the Golf du Château des Vigiers in the Dordogne Valley, the Golf de Seignosse in the Landes Forest or the Golf du Phare in Biarritz in the Basque County, then continue your timeout with wellness, cultural, gastronomic or wine-focused experiences.
💡 To find out more, check our section on golf
To make it easier to access golf courses at a special rate, Golf Passes are proposed for some destinations.
And, there's also…
You can play it bare-handed or with a range of various accessories – the chistera, xare or cesta punta. The pelota can reach speeds of 300km/h when played with the cesta punta! Pelota derives from the jeu de paume, a game that Henry IV (King of France and Navarre, born in Pau in 1553) was so fond of. It comes in a myriad of specialities depending on where it's played, what accessory is used and the ball. There's a whole tradition around Basque pelota: making the accessories showcases artisanal know-how, the pelota court is the heart and soul of every village and competitions make for colourful gatherings.
Nouvelle-Aquitaine is one of France's leading regions for its marathons (over a dozen/year). From La Rochelle to Bordeaux via Médoc, from Poitiers-Futuroscope to the Marais Poitevin and from the castles of the Dordogne Valley to the Landes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the place to experience unforgettable marathons as you explore magical places in a friendly, festive atmosphere!
The Médoc Marathon, the Bordeaux Half-Marathon, the Royan Atlantic Coast Marathon, the Region buzzes with these events that bring together more and more enthusiasts every year.
The Region also boasts a great tradition of trail running, races on any unpaved surface in natural surroundings, with areas labelled as "trail resorts" like: Bordeaux, Niort-Marais Poitevin, the Basque Country-Baigorri Valley, Ossau Pyrénées and French departments such as Corrèze and Creuse that organize a host of competitions throughout the year.
Santiago de Compostela route, Regional Nature Parks, and a wide array of other hiking trails make Nouvelle-Aquitaine a destination that invites to discover the region at a walking or running pace.
Mountain lovers, skiers, snowboarders, riders, hikers and snowshoeing fans, hit the Pyrenean valleys to experience the joys of winter sports in the resorts of Artouste, Gourette, La Pierre Saint Martin as well as in Nordic sports areas such as Le Somport, Issarbe and Iraty. Each has its own personality, all of them are magical places for every generation whether you're with family or friends, have chalets at the foot of the slopes and invite you to share great moments together. Here the mountain’s a real philosophy: “experience it, share it, together”!
Until the 2024 Summer Olympic Games come around...
France will host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games and is already gearing up to centre stage the world's biggest sporting event.
Several Olympic tournament football matches will take place in Bordeaux. In addition to this, the whole region will be involved in the Games with some 80 Olympic Games' training centres spread across the area. Shooting, archery, swimming, fencing, surfing, boxing, wrestling, sailing, rowing, canoeing-kayaking, cycling, table tennis, roller skating, skateboarding... Nouvelle-Aquitaine is definitely a sports destination to be discovered!
To enjoy the Games in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, visit the Ambition 2.24 site