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Graves et Garonne  

After the boulevards "the scent of burnt herbs, cows and hot figs began to blend together" wrote François Mauriac (1885-1970), novelist and member of the Académie Française, in one of his autobiographical writings. 
 
Cities : Talence, Bègles, Gradignan Pessac et Villenave-d'Ornon 

 

He was familiar with this route that was saturated at the time with the scent of the forest and the neighbouring countryside. The valley of the Eau Bourde lends itself easily to rambling and nature activities as it winds its way through ten parks and nature zones. The 23 kilometres of this river that rises in the plateau of the Landes are inhabited by a fauna and flora that are typical of watercourses.

In the Middle Ages the whole country benefited from an historic and legendary route that linked Bordeaux to Spain, the "chemin Roumieu", used by pilgrims to the shrine of Saint James of Compostella. The priory at Cayac where pilgrims rested their weary limbs for more than eight centuries is the most illustrious monument relating to Saint James in the Aquitaine region. With its aristocratic look, this manor-hospital reconstructed in the 16th century is one of the major cultural centres in the southern suburbs of Bordeaux.

Amidst magnificent gardens with mature trees, we find elegant country houses constructed in the 18th century for rich Bordeaux merchants. Laurenzanne and Tauzia in Gradignan, and Margaut and Peixotto in Talence, stand as splendid examples of the bucolic art de vivre of the age of the Enlightenment. We are sometimes surprised by the proximity of high-tech buildings and suburban dwellings that nevertheless fit in effortlessly. The south of Bordeaux is famous for more than rugby. There is also the must-see Musée de la Création Franche with a collection comprised of all forms of art, both traditional and surrealist.