The Basque Country straddles northern Spain and southern France, near the Pyrénées. It’s an unofficial land with no official borders and in France is known as the Pays Basque. Called Euskadi in Basque, it’s a land of emerald green landscapes, rugged mountains, and dramatic shorelines.
The Basques have a unique culture, language and traditions that are unlike those of their Spanish and French neighbors, and they are fiercely proud of their heritage. Called Euskara, the Basque language is one of the oldest living languages still spoken today. Whilst it’s an official language in Spain, it’s not recognised as such in France. But you will hear it commonly spoken, especially in small villages, as well as in Bayonne, regarded as the capital of the French Basque country, in the lovely coastal town of Anglet and even in glitzy Biarritz (three areas known conjointly as B-A-B).
Take a tour here and you’ll discover authentic France, a land of berets, gourmet food, and extraordinarily beautiful landscapes…
A Ten-day tour of authentic southern France
French Country Adventures ten-day tour takes in the very best of the Basque country. Amazing restaurants, fabulous food and wine, picturesque villages and glorious seaside towns, farmer markets and historic towns.
You’ll be based in charming St Jean de Luz. It’s an active fishing village at the mouth of the Nivelle River on the doorstep of the Atlantic coast. It’s the perfect place to watch the world go by from a colourful café at the port
Feast like Kings
Eating is a national pastime in the Basque culture. There are an abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants and an incredible 1500 secret gourmet societies known as txokos scattered throughout the Pays Basque. Visit markets and try the local alpine sheep cheeses. Indulge in the famous Gateau Basque – an irresistible combination of black cherries and pistachio flavored cream. The local seafood is second to none. Enjoy a chocolate tasting. And cross into Spain for authentic tapas. You’ll even dine at Alain Ducasse’s auberge, Ostape, the legendary chefs secret haven:
Explore beautiful Biarritz
You’ll visit stylish Biarritz, once a simple fishing village. But when the Empress Eugenie had husband Napoleon III build her a palace here in the 1850s and established a summer court on the beach, it was catapulted into legend. The rich and famous followed from Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra to Gwyneth Paltrow. Now it’s a great place to stroll above the pounding sea. There are museums and a mix of eclectic mansions to visit. Shops and restaurants line the promenade above one of the best surfing beaches this side of Malibu. Enjoy a stunning view with lunch and luxuriate at a Thalassotherapy Spa which uses salt water to heal and pamper guests.
Discover picturesque villages
This unique tour will take you to the most beautiful and unspoiled villages in the Basque country including medieval Ainhoa. You’ll tour Biddaray which is on the pilgrims’ route of Saint Jacques de Compostelle. Hop on Le Petit Train de la Rhune to climb 2,970ft for a 360-degree view of the Pays Basque, the department of the Landes and The Atlantic Ocean. In Cambo-les-Bains you’ll visit Villa Arnega, the beautiful home and gardens, like a miniature Versailles, which belonged to the author of Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmund Rostand. Enjoy wine tasting and pintxos at Egiategia a unique winery in the Pays Basque. They produce spectacular sparkling wines by submerging 300 liter wine tanks behind the break wall that protects St. Jean de Luz.
A rendezvous with neighbouring Spain is on the itinerary. Donostia, as San Sebastian is called in Basque, will charm you with its circular bay rimmed with a picturesque promenade and pristine white beaches. Wander the Parte vieja, the old quarter of the city with its ornate churches, wonderful shops and pixtos (tapas) bars. Learn how to make mouth-watering tapas, the essential pintxo, followed by a gourmet lunch and wine tasting.
You’ll visit Bilbao to tour the extraordinary Guggenheim Museum of modern and contemporary art, designed by American architect Frank Gehry. Explore the old town with its winding narrow streets, the beautiful Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao, Archeological Museum, Plaza Nueva, and churches of San Nicolás and San Antón.
This small group tour includes transport, meals and a fabulous guide who will show you the very best of the Basque country. You’ll discover the rich heritage of the far south, an authentic and breath-takingly beautiful part of France where visitors are warmly welcomed and memories are made…
Find out more about the fabulous itinerary and book your place at: FrenchCountryAdventures