Regional Nature Parks ... wide open spaces, let's go

In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, five vast regional nature parks, with their preserved landscapes and invaluable heritage, invite you in. Along the Atlantic Coast, in the countryside north of Périgord, in the Landes’ forest and in Limousin’s mountains, they offer you incredible spaces to explore.

PNR Landes

Forêt des Landes à Biscarosse

What’s a must-do in Marais Poitevin, Périgord-Limousin, Landes de Gascogne, Médoc and Millevaches en Limousin? Here are our favourites of the must-visit and must-experience to delight in at the very heart of great preserved spaces in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

LANDES DE GASCOGNE (between Bordeaux and Mont-de-Marsan)

Must-visit sites:

  • The Leyre Valleys and their gallery-forests.
  • The pinewoods where systematic plantation was ordered by Napoleon III, interspersed with traces of the original land such as its wetlands and lagoons.
  • Vantage points for observing rare and/or protected fauna (amphibians, bats, grey cranes, etc) such as the Ornithological Reserve in Le Teich, the Domaine Départemental Gérard Lagors in Hostens as well as the Lencouacq Observatory.

Recommended activities:

  • Naturalist walks, to observe grey cranes and just to delight.
  • Bike circuits, especially during the “Bike Park” days, to enjoy the pure, fresh air.
  • A canoe or kayak expedition down the Leyre, to enjoy an easy, fresh adventure.

Reception points:

  • The Maison du Parc and the Graoux Centre in Belin-Beliet
  • The Grande Lande Ecomuseum in Marquèze
  • The Atelier-Gîte in Saugnac
  • The Maison de la Nature du Bassin d’Arcachon in Teich

PNR Périgord Limousin

Espace Hermeline PNR Périgord - Limousin

PÉRIGORD-LIMOUSIN (between Limoges and Périgueux)

Must-visit sites:

  • The Rochechouart crater site, today a nature reserve.
  • Places focusing on local know-how, such as Saint-Junien the capital of leather, Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, its Kaolin quarry for making porcelain and the Bijou madeleine (cakes) manufacture.
  • The Dournazac Chestnut Grove Conservatory, to find out more about one of the Park’s emblematic trees.
  • The Hauts de Tardoire (13 km) and Thiviers - Saint-Pardoux-la-Rivière (17 km) Greenways.

Recommended activities:

  • Terra Aventura’s geocaching to explore and have fun with the family.
  • A trip along the Bussière-Galant Bike-Rail, a railway just for you!
  • A trip in a hot-air balloon to discover Périgord-Limousin’s hidden treasures.
  • A placer-mining session (small-scale gold-mining) in Jumilhac to get in the gold-digging fever mood for a few moments.

Reception point: The Maison du Parc in La Coquille

PNR Millevaches

PNR Millevaches

MILLEVACHES EN LIMOUSIN (between Limoges, Tulle and Aubusson)

Must-visit sites:

  • Vassivière Lake and its 1,000 hectares to delight in water pleasures (sport and leisure windsurfing, the adrenalin of waterskiing, wake-boarding and tubing, night-time canoe trips, swimming, and more…).
  • The Longeyroux Peat Bog, to learn about this natural element highly-specific to the Regional Nature Park.
  • The communes of Meymac, Felletin, Eymoutiers and Treignac, the 4 gateways to the Park.

Recommended activities:

  • Cross-country skiing on the Gentioux-Pigerolles ski area in Creuse, at Chadebec or at Chalet de la Croix de la Mission in Corrèze.
  • Mountain-biking leaving from the Chamberet, Eygurande (Haute-Corrèze Mountain-biking), Saint-Setiers and Nedde bases.
  • Fishing in this region with its host of rivers and watershed towards the Dordogne and the Garonne (Vézère, Corrèze) on one side and towards the Loire (Vienne, Creuse) on the other side.

Reception point: The Maison du Parc in Millevaches

PNR Marais poitevin

Promenade à vélo electrique à La Garette-Sansais dans le Marais Poitevin

MARAIS POITEVIN (between Niort and La Rochelle)

Must-visit sites:

  • The famous “Green Venice” near Niort, the wet marshland with its lush decor of ashes, willows and alders blossoming along the waterways to be discovered by boat.
  • Aiguillon Bay and its magnificent nature reserve, a haven for numerous birds and also well-known for its production of bouchot mussels.
  • The charming villages of Coulon and Arçais.

Recommended activities:

  • Boating, known here as “la plate” (a punt), to rent with or without a boat(wo)man-guide on one of the marsh’s numerous jetties.
  • Cycling, on flat ground and in the shade along towpaths, through village side streets, along La Vélo Francette and La Vélodyssée.
  • Fishing using a dip net in Aiguillon Bay in Esnandes.
  • Discovering the birds of the Marais Poitevin at the eponymous site at Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud.

Reception points:

  • The Maison du Marais Poitevin in Coulon
  • The Maison de la Baie du Marais Poitevin in Esnandes
  • The Pôle Nature du Marais Poitevin in Taugon

PNR Médoc

MÉDOC (on Bordeaux’s doorstep)

Must-visit sites:

  • winemaking Médoc, without a doubt the most prestigious in the world with its extremely famous appellations such as Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Moulis, etc. to explore via the Wine Routes from Bordeaux to Médoc;
  • Atlantic Médoc, from Soulac’s charming villas (and its basilica listed as a UNESCO Heritage site) to the immense beaches of Porge via Lacanau, surfers’ paradise;
  • the Gironde Estuary watched over as it enters the ocean by Cordouan Lighthouse and, further south, by Fort Médoc, one of Vauban’s strategic lock points;
  • Hourtin-Carcans and Lacanau lakes, for their beaches and their aquatic activities accessible for everyone, perfect for families.

Recommended activities:

  • trekking, in particular through sensitive natural areas and Nature Reserves, like Cousseau Marsh and Contaut Lagoon;
  • a boat trip on Europe’s largest estuary, the Gironde, and a visit to Richard Lighthouse to get to know it better and contemplate it;
  • a surfing lesson (or more!) to experience the rhythm of the tides and the waves, at top spots such as Carcans Beach, Hourtin Beach, Montalivet-les-Bains and Soulac-sur-Mer.

Reception points: Médoc peninsula Tourist Offices.

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