A wonderful world in a tiny territory.

Ainhoa, Pays Basque


Straddling the border with neighbouring Spain, the Basque country is on the small side in France, yet offers glorious variety.

Which of your senses will get hit first?

Perhaps vision, because your eyes can feast on colourful contrasts in the scenery and festivals, not to mention the feast on your plate.

Then again your ears will be awash with Basque music, bleating flocks of sheep and screeching at the fish market right where the mountains dips into the ocean.

Then you get to taste the local produce: cheese made from ewe’s milk, Espelette pepper, succulent black cherries in Basque cakes, and Spanish dishes that are a delight to share.

Your sense of touch enjoys fulfilment with the soft Basque textiles, pampering massage at the spa contrasting with rough cornerstones and pottok horses’ manes which all go to make up the essence of the Basque spirit.

Biarritz, Pyrénées-Atlantiques

© CDT64


Light bathes ocean and town in beauty fit to grace the silver screen. The camera zooms in one of the resort’s beaches with a scene starring the Ours blancs (literally, the White Bears), a group of joyful locals who take a dip in the ocean every single day of the year.

The iodine whets your appetite, so you stop off at the « Planète musée du chocolat » (Chocolate museum/workshop), after all the children’s education is of utmost importance.

As you stroll along the ledge, you see villas dating back to the times of the Empress Eugénie, just perfect for flashbacks. Bang on time for the sea lions’ feeding time at the Aquarium Sea Museum: the kids do learn best when having fun!

Tomorrow, you can take in the interactive Ocean City. While your SO enjoys a game of golf with an ocean view, you head back to the beach to learn to surf. After all this is where the Hollywood director Peter Vietel first started teaching the French how to surf on a visit in September 1957.

Pop into the Tourist Information Office to find out about exhibitions and festivals: there’s always something on, whatever the time of year.

An outdoor scene, at night: at a restaurant by the old port, enjoy the seafood and lights. Time for the kids to go to bed!

Pyrénées Atlantiques, Pays Basque, Labourd,  Saint-Jean de Luz

@ Jean Jacques BROCHARD / CRTA

On the Basque coast

A variety of wonderful Basque resorts stretch right along the 40-km coastline. Beaches, bays, creeks and cliffs alternate for diverse scenery.

Anglet is the closest beach to Bayonne. The festive Basque capital is renowned for its love of rugby and gastronomy.

Check out the lovely half-timbered buildings all in red and green along the banks of the Nive. These are just some of the beauties of Biarritz. Then there’s Bidart and Guéthary before you get to the smugglers’ city, Saint-Jean-de-Luz. There are traditional Basque buildings overlooking the bay with views of Socoa fort on one side, and a fishing port on the other, where you can see whale-hunting souvenirs and others of the Spanish Infanta’s wedding to Louis XIV. You may hear the haunting Boléro, composed by local talent Maurice Ravel.

Take the coastal route to Hendaye, on the Spanish border, for several stunning viewpoints of cliffs and the ocean, as well as the mountains rising to the east of the Rhune.

Guéthary, Pays Basque


The Basque country

The Basque hinterland is mountainous and magnificent. There are villages, bell towers and pediments galore.

For the heart of each Basque village is the wall where they play pelote! Meet the shepherds and craftsmen, taste typical produce, like Irouléguy, the wine grown on the hillsides. Mauléon is famous for manufacturing the traditional espadrilles, so why not don them for a dance? Listen to story-tellers and txalaparta players beating on wooden planks.

Euskara is what they call the Basque language. It’s unique, and highly symbolic of the culture handed down to each upcoming generation. You’ll see etxe, typical Basque houses in flawless white and red or white and green, and a St-James monument serving as a reminder that Ostabat is where the main routes all meet to take pilgrims to Compostelle. And herds of pottoks, miniature Basque horses with prehistoric DNA.

Five of the villages have the « most beautiful villages in France » label (Aïnhoa, La Bastide-Clairence, Navarrenx, Sare et Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port), many more are typical of the Basque soul.

Beautiful Basque villages

Ascain - Sare - Aïnhoa - Espelette - La Bastide-Clairence

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Bordeaux, its vineyards, its river

You want to scale heights? Head for the Pyrenees and the foothills in Béarn.

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The basque coast

Bayonne - Anglet - Biarritz - Saint-Jean-de-Luz - Hendaye

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As of 1 January 2016, the Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes regions are now only one! Also discover tourism opportunities in