Basque country and the coast

The Basque country, with its folklore, its ferias and its superb architecture and landscape is praised by travellers worldwide. It might seem like all its paths have already been travelled, but here are a few routes among our favourite.

Gourmet journeys through the Basque country

In this land of milk and honey with secular fishing and breeding traditions, the culinary arts are not taken lightly. Festive gatherings celebrating the Cherry (in Itxassou), Pepper (in Espelette) or Basque cake (in Cambo) are regarded as popular and social events (the most dignified local personalities are gathered in brotherhoods!). Basque sweets of course include the renowned cake – which you can taste at Pariès‘ in Bayonne – but also Maison Adam‘s delicious traditional almond macarons, free of any unnatural food colouring. Chocolate aficionados will not feel left out: the region has been cultivating a chocolate tradition ever since the blossoming of the Bayonne harbour in the seventeenth century. Several famed factories, among which Puyodebat in Cambo and Antton in Espelette, offer tours of their facilities.

Markets and producers of interest:

  • The (wonderful) Biarritz Halles: every morning
  • The Bayonne Halles: everyday from Monday to Saturday
  • Pierre Oteiza in the Aldudes: Basque pork delicatessen, among which the famed dried sausages served in the Ferme aux Grives
  • Maison Bipertegia in Espelette: pepper, spices and condiment. Open every day during the high season.

An important part of the basque heritage

The part of the basque country set in the foothills of the Pyrenees has lots of charming villages, and you can visit all of them in a row since there is only a few kilometers between each of them. The most renowned villages attract scores of people,especially in the summer, but they are so inherently beautiful that we still feel compelled to advise you to visit them : Ainhoa, Sarre, Espelette, St-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

The Villa d’Arnaga is a masterpiece from the so-called «neo-basque » renaissance, an
architectural movement that took over the region in the early twentieth century, and it used to be home to playwright and poet Edmond Rostand. This is one of the sites that you simply have to visit when touring the region – and you will appreciate it even more if you let the domain’s guide enlighten you with their witty comments and insightful anecdotes. The large mansion, with its amazing architecture and design (including a particularly remarkable kitchen) is surrounded by a lovely French garden.

Basque country on foot

You simply can not take a trip to the Basque country and not go for a walk or a hike to take in the stunning beauty of the landscape.
Here are a few routes that we particularly recommend:

  • From Ainhoa to Espelette : 7.2 miles – difficulty : medium
    After a rough walk up the Mont du Calvaire, the trail goes up and down round hilltops, along easy pathways with gentle slopes. The route offers a striking sight of the Labour plains and of the valleys leading to the adjacent region of Navarre.
  • Along the ocean, from Bidart to St-Jean-de-Luz : 8.2 miles – difficulty : medium
    The first part of this trail that runs along the littoral presents the walker with a great variety of
    atmospheres as he walks past beaches, coves, paths and small roads. It ends at Pointe Sainte-Barbe, a rocky spur overlooking the bay of Saint-Jean-de-Luz that rewards the huddled hiker with an exceptional viewpoint. Just a tiny piece of advice : try to arrive there at low tide.

A family vacation on the Basque Coast

Regardless of whether you choose to turn towards the ocean or towards the land, the resorts of
the Coast are rich with possibilities of activities that will enchant adults and children alike The splendid Aquarium of Biarritz, also known as Musée de la Mer (Museum of the Sea) offers a two-hour tour ideally suited for a rainy day. After the museum, you can head to the Virgin’s Rock then stroll along the Grande Plage up until the world-famous Hôtel du Palais, an ideal place to sip a cup of tea while gazing at the ocean.

On the mountain side, you can ride a small train to the top of the Rhune, before strolling in the «Ventas», these traditional Spanish stands scattered along the border between France and Spain.