Nouvelle Aquitaine today
Nouvelle Aquitaine (in Southwest France) is the name of the new region created by the territorial reform that took effect on January 1, 2016.
It combines the former administrative regions of Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes and Limousin.
Its administrative centre or préfecture and capital is Bordeaux.
It is also France’s 7th largest French city with 850,000 inhabitants.
Aquitaine is divided in 5 departments: Landes (40 – Mont-de-Marsan), Gironde (33 – Bordeaux), Dordogne (24 – Périgueux), Lot-et-Garonne (47 – Agen) and Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64 – Pau).
The department of Landes gave its name to the vast forests of pines planted in the 19th century to stop the erosion of sand dunes.
The western section of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department corresponds to French Basque Country or Iparralde and Béarn in the heart of the Pyrenees mountain.
These two regions with a strong identity, which fiercely protect their cultural traditions.
Poitou-Charentes consists of 4 departments: Charente (16 – Angoulême), Charente-Maritime (17 – La Rochelle), Deux-Sèvres (7 – Niort) and Vienne (86 – Poitiers).
Its administrative centre and capital is Poitiers.
Limousin is divided in 3 departments: Corrèze (19 – Tulle), Creuse (23 – Guéret) and Haute-Vienne (87 – Limoges).
Its capital and préfecture is Limoges.
Nouvelle Aquitaine covers most of the historic Duchy of Aquitaine, which Eleanore inherited, and passed under English sovereignty when she married Henry II Plantagenet, king of England.
The region became the theatre of the territorial conflicts that opposed French and English, and in particular the Hundred Years War that stretched from the 14th to the 15th century.
Both sides developed fortified towns, known as bastides, many of which are today ranked among the most beautiful French towns.
Aquitaine came back into the French royal estate in 1453, after the victory of Castillon-la-Bataille.
Nouvelle Aquitaine geography and climate
The Nouvelle Aquitaine Region mainly covers the Bassin d’Aquitaine, a vast sedimentary basin formed in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.
It is the largest French region, and therefore its landscapes and climates vary from an area to the other.
It indeed stretches from the wetlands of Poitou in the north to the Pyrénées Mountains in the south.
The Atlantic Ocean’s delineates it to the west, and the Massif Central to the east.
Its littoral enjoys a warm oceanic climate.
However, inland areas are subject to semi-continental influences, while the Pyrénées have a predominant mountain climate that varies with the altitude.
Finally, the Basque Country has pockets of micro-climates.
Agriculture and of course viticulture, tourism, aerospace and industrial ceramics are the base of the region’s economy.
However, pharmaceutical industry as well as digital, design and financial sectors plays a major role.
Nouvelle Aquitaine is the largest European agricultural region in terms of turnover.
It is also the first region in France in terms of employment in the tourism sector.
The region opens onto the Atlantic Ocean and boasts prestigious seaside resorts and harbours accessible to cruise ships, such as Arcachon, Bayonne, Biarritz, La Rochelle, Royan and of course Bordeaux.
River tourism is equally thriving with the Canal des Deux Mers, which connects the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean via the Canal de la Garonne and Canal du Midi.
Several renowned Pyrénées ski resorts sustain this thriving tourist sector.
Nouvelle Aquitaine is also the second area of France (after Paris-Ile de France) with the largest number of universities and Grandes Ecoles (Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Limoges, Poitiers and Pau).
The region is obviously well connected.
The A10 motorway connects Bordeaux to Paris and to Spain, the A89 to Clermont-Ferrand then the Rhône Valley, and the A62-A61 to Toulouse and the Mediterranean.
Secondly, the TGV connects it to Paris, Toulouse and Spain.
Finally, the Nouvelle Aquitaine has 5 international airports:
Bordeaux-Mérignac, Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne, Pau-Pyrénées Airport, Limoges-Bellegarde and Bergerac Airport.
Area: 84,061 km²
Population: 5,844,177 (01/01/2013)