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Reasons to visit South West France

Reputedly, surfing in Europe began in Biarritz in 1957. Today it remains a mecca for those that love to ride the waves but there is so much more to Biarritz and the whole region than this. True, the blue Atlantic and long sandy beaches backed by dunes and pine woods are not something to be dismissed lightly. But to never move off the beaches would be to miss a great part of what south-west France has to offer.

The southern half of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region is the French Basque Country, or Pays Basque. The similarity to the Spanish Basque Country is readily visible in the vernacular architecture, words and place names, and the dedication to seafood and the produce of the countryside.

Biarritz was famous long before surfing arrived, having been a favourite haunt of European royalty and aristocracy in the 19th century. Much of that glamour is retained in the architecture of the town and its famous casino. Other towns nearby are Bayonne and Saint-Jean-de-Luz, both also worth a visit.

At the southern extreme, the genrally flat country gives way to hills and then to the Pyrenees as they climb up to meet the Spanish border.

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