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Two weeks in South West France Itinerary: Occitaine & Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Two weeks in South West France Itinerary: Occitaine & Nouvelle-Aquitaine
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Wine, world-class food, breathtaking architecture and a little off the tourist track: if you want to see a fresh side to France, then it’s well worth heading West rather than East when travelling to the South. Here’s how to spend the perfect two weeks in South West France itinerary; a guide to the best places to visit in the French regions of Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

From the off the beaten path city of Limoges, to the bright lights of foodie Bordeaux, this guide is all about French gastronomy, history, and the best this area of l’Hexagon has to offer. If you’re like me and wish to see the more touristic places, as well as discover a different side of France, then this itinerary is for you!

Limoges, Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Beziers all have international airports, meaning that getting to the south of France couldn’t be easier. Budget airlines run to all of them. While Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Beziers all have public transport to-and-from the airport, it’s worth noting that to reach the centre of Limoges from the airport, you’ll need to order a taxi. Otherwise, all stops along this route are easy to reach via train!

Here's how to spend 2 weeks in South West France. Limoges, Carcassonne, Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, etc. The perfect itinerary for two weeks in Southern France!Why You Must Visit Limoges: The Hidden Gem of Southern France

Limoges 

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Hôtel Campanile Limoges Centre Gare

The ancient city of Limoges can be found towards the very centre of France, in a place far removed from the sea and surrounded by French vineyards. Home to a historic city centre, some of the best things to do in this off the beaten path French city include visiting the city’s historic cathedral, as well as wandering around the beautiful timber-framed district of the Quartier de la Boucherie.

While the city is well worthy of your time, most of its key attractions can be seen over the course of a day, meaning that you’ll only need to spend a night in the city. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is home to lots of local archaeological finds and the Jardin Botanique de l’Eveche is the perfect place to admire the city from above.

Read more: Here’s why you need to visit Limoges ASAP

Why You Must Visit Limoges: The Hidden Gem of Southern France

Bordeaux

Stay: 2 nights

Where to stay: Yndo Hôtel

Quite literally known as the wine region of France, once upon a time, Bordeaux was known as the capital of a principality during the 14th-century. And that’s not where the history ends. Instead, the city was known as Burdigala during the Classical Era, and was even part of the Kingdom of England for around three hundred years.

Full of architecture dating back to the Middle Ages as well as an incredible food scene (did I mention that Bordeaux is one of the top foodie restaurants in France?), you could easily spend several days getting to know the city. Highlights of Bordeaux include a wine-tasting visit to the Cité du Vin, splashing around in the largest reflective pool in the world, the Miroir d’Eau, and seeing some impressive medieval history (the gothic cathedral and the Porte Cailhau).

Read more: Hidden gems of Bordeaux, Southern France

Essential tour: 2 hour river dinner cruise

Basilique Saint Michel, Secret Spots in Bordeaux & A Complete Guide to the best of unusual, offbeat, and quirky things to do in Bordeaux, South West France

Saint-Emilion

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Hostellerie de Plaisance

Although you could visit Saint-Emilion as a day trip from Bordeaux, in order to make the most of your time in this fairytale town, I recommend instead spending an overnight in the city so as to soak up as much of the ambience of the place as possible. Surrounded by vineyards, be sure not to miss sunrise or sunset in this stunning place.

Perched atop a limestone clifftop in the Dordogne region, the magical town of Saint-Emilion is known around the world for its world-class wine and no trip to South West France would be complete without a visit here. Even if you’re not a fan of wine, there are still plenty of things to see and do in the city in the form of catacombs and cobbled lanes.

Read more: Breathtakingly beautiful places to visit in France

wine tasting glass house restaurant life aboard the ventura p and o cruises

Agen

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Hostellerie de Plaisance

Situated on the train line, right between Bordeaux and Toulouse, the often overlooked city of Agen is a historical gem of museums, galleries, and timber-framed houses. Also home to a hermitage overlooking the city (a nearby viewing platform makes for the best views of Agen), the best-known feature of this tiny city is the Agen Aqueduct, the second longest aqueduct in France.

Just as in Bordeaux, Agen (pronounced ‘ah-gen’) is located along the mighty River Garonne and can be found in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Other highlights of Agen include the city’s frescoed Cathedral, as well as the Musée des Beaux-Arts which is housed within a turreted former Maison Particulier.

Read more: Best things to do in Agen, South West France

Agen Cathedral interior, Two weeks in South West France Itinerary: Occitaine & Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Toulouse

Stay: 2 nights

Where to stay: La Cour des Consuls

Known in French as ‘La Ville Rose’, Toulouse is one of the largest cities in France and so merits a two-night stay (or more) within this South-West France itinerary. So-called because of the pink-hued bricks which are used to construct many of the more famous buildings in the city, there’s no shortage of interesting and quirky attractions when it comes to Toulouse.

Toulouse is best-visited over the course of several days because of the sheer size of the city, as well as the number of cultural sites to see and off the beaten path locations. Some of the top things to do in Toulouse include wandering around the Saint Sernin Basilica (one of the largest basilicas in Europe), as well as seeing where the relics of St Thomas of Aquinas now lie in the Couvent des Jacobins.

Read more: Where to find the best secret spots in Toulouse!

Essential tour 2.5-Hour Private Walking Tour of Toulouse

l'enfant au bonnet d'âne (the child with a dunce cap statue), Secret Spots in Toulouse & A Complete Guide to the best of unusual, offbeat, and quirky things to do in La Ville Rose (the pink city), capital of Occitanie, Toulouse, South West France

Carcassonne

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Hotel de la Cité

The ancient city of Carcassonne is best known for its historic city centre which was heavily restored (and made more ‘magical’) by the architect Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th-century. Walled, fortified, and now considered a UNESCO world heritage site, no trip to South West France would be complete without a stopover in Carcassonne.

The history of the most famous medieval walled city in France dates all the way back to the Neolithic Period and the place was even used during the Roman period as a fortified location. Head here, and you’re guaranteed to feel as though you’ve stepped back in time and been transported right into the Middle Ages. Just be sure to bring your camera along- you’ll surely want to snap a fair few photos along the way!

Read more: Breathtakingly beautiful places to visit in France

Essential tour: 2-Hour Private Walking Tour of Carcassonne

Carcassonne Carte Postale before 1940

Narbonne

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Hôtel de France Narbonne

Narbonne is a former Roman port city which now lies some 15 km away from the shoreline. What was once a seafaring town is now a historic city filled with cobbled lanes, architecture dating back to the middle ages, and a myriad of restaurants and bistros serving traditional French fare.

Although the town, which also happens to be the birthplace of iconic singer Charles Trenet (search for th song ‘La Mer!’), has little by way of attractions in comparison with larger French cities, the charm of the place lies in its off the beaten track nature, as well as stunning houses and quintessentially French architecture. And I personally have to say that of all the destinations I’ve visited in South West France, Narbonne ranks among my top three favourites!

Read more: The complete Narbonne travel guide!

Free & Self-Guided Walking Tour of Narbonne City, Occitanie, France

Beziers

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: L’Hotel Particulier Beziers

Best-known for its imposing and fortified citadel-like Cathedral, Beziers is often overlooked in favour of more famous nearby neighbours such as the seaside resort of Agde. However, if you’re looking to see a side of France which fewer tourists venture to, then the city is well worth exploring over the course of a day or two.

Some of the very best things to do in Beziers include wandering around the 9 stepped locks of the Fonserannes (which are now part of the designated Canal du Midi UNESCO world heritage site), seeing the historic heart of the city, and learning about Cathar history.

Read more: Where to find the best view in Beziers

Here’s a quick guide on where to find the best view in Beziers, a beautiful city in the Languedoc, Occitanie, France

Montpellier

Stay: 2 nights

Where to stay: Baudon de Mauny

Montpellier is one of the larger cities in France, meaning that the city is home to a multitude of bars, cafés, bistros, and cultural attractions. Although the city is sprawling in size, many of the main highlights of Montpellier can be found in the rather condensed historic city centre.

Best-seen on foot, this maze of cobbled lanes, ecclesiastical buildings, and small museums should be seen over the course of several days. While in Montpellier, be sure to also see the Place de la Comédie, where much of the city’s action is centred around. On your second day, be sure to make the trip to the fringes of the city to enjoy one of the most beautiful castles in France, Château des Flaguergues.

Read more: Free & self-guided Montpellier walking tour

Essential tour:Wine & Food Day Trip to Pic Saint-Loup

Free & Self-Guided Montpellier Walking Tour, Occitanie, Southern France. How to spend one day in the French city of Montpellier!

Nîmes

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Hôtel Jardins Secrets

The Roman city of Nimes can be found in the Occitanie region of France and is filled with Roman ruins. Midway between the Cévennes mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, the town is often referred to as the ‘French Rome’ thanks to its impressive well-preserved Nîmes Arena and the Maison Carée (a stunning ancient building complete with Roman temple facçade).

Essential tour: Pont du Gard, Uzès & Nîmes- 5-Hour Tour with Entry Fees

Things to know before visiting South West France for the first time

In more off the beaten path cities such as Beziers and Narbonne, though many people working in the tourist industry will still speak English, you’ll likely want a simple French phrasebook with you like this one if you’re planning to frequent any non-touristy restaurants or cafés.

Although you can rent a car to undertake this two weeks in South West France itinerary, all of the destinations listed within this guide have their own train stations with easy links to the rest of France. As such, a car is not really necessary, and you most certainly won’t want to be driving in some of the larger cities like Toulouse and Bordeaux.

Finally, you’ll want to bring a universal travel adaptor with you like this one as French plug sockets are different from what you’ll be used to back home! Still keen on learning a little about this beautiful region of France? This introduction to the history of France explores l’Hexagon from the time of the Romans, right up until more modern times.

Sunrise at Porte Cailhau, A Girls Getaway Weekend in Bordeaux Itinerary. How to spend three days in Bordeaux; what to see, where to go, what to eat, and the best day trips from Bordeaux, South West France

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Here's your ultimate guide for enjoying two weeks in South West France. Where to go, what to eat, and the best hotels in Occitanie and Nouvelle Aquitaine, France Europe

Here's how to spend 2 weeks in South West France. How to spend the perfect two weeks hours in Occitanie and Nouvelle Aquitaine, France. Where to stay, what to eat, what you must visit and the best places to see!

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