Basque country, a region of traditions
The Basque country is formed by a French and a Spanish part, separated from each other by the western Pyrenees. The French part is located in the most southern part of south west France. It is part of the department Pyrénées-Atlantiques including the Béarn.
The Basque country spreads south of the Adour between the Atlantic Coast, the Pyrenees and the Béarn, and is formed by three former provinces: the Labourd, with harbour towns like Bayonne and Hendaye, Basse Navarre with its capital Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port, and La Soule with its mountain landscapes around Mauléon.
Behind the wide beaches of Les Landes, the Basque coast offers a mountainous landscape from Biarritz. Here you’ll find a range of rocks up to Hendaye, until 50 metres high. The Basque mountains are formed by the western part of the Pyrenees, with less steep summit.
The climate of the Basque country, influenced by the Gulf Stream, is tempered and mild. The Basque country, scattered with lush landscapes, also offers a great cultural and architectural wealth. The region is attractive to those who love relaxation, nice beaches, sand and rocks, but also for athletic tourists. You’ll be staying between the sea and the mountains.
To discover in the Basque country
The Basque country stands for famous beach resorts and typical villages that are part of the most beautiful villages of France, but it is also a region of traditions and culture, with a rich past. During your stay in the Basque country, you can discover the Basque coast. From Biarritz to Anglet, passing by Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye, you can discover fishing, the beach tourism, the talasso therapy centres, the luxury hotels and casinos, and of course the surfing. Do not forget to visit the typical villages of the hinterland. The Basque country counts various wealth such as churches, castles, priories, museums, grots, nature sites, etc. Enough to discover with family or friends, by car, on foot or by bike. Also make use of your stay to visit the various events around sports, culture and music, like the corridas festival, the festival of Espelette pepper, the festival of Basque cake, the festival of the sea, the famous feasts of Bayonne and the various town festivals. While discovering the Basque country, you’ll also be crossing the wealth of the regional products like seafood, the cheeses of sheep milk, the ham of Bayonne, chocolate and Basque cakes, and not to forget the Espelette pepper and Irouleguy wine, cider and Patxaran.
To visit in the Basque country
Biarritz, Bayonne, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Hendaye, Anglet and Ciboure are the seven towns that you absolutely must visit during your stay in the Basque country. The animal park Etxola in Sare is also worth a visit. Here you’ll find various breeds of French and foreign animals like the Cameroun sheep, sheep with four horns, camels, ornamental poultry, angora goats, lamas, etc.
You can also visit the musée basque et de l’histoire de Bayonne, that houses in the Maison Dagourette, a mansion from the 17th century, listed as a monument. In this museum, you’ll find a vast collection of ethnographic collections dedicated to the culture and way of life of the Basque country.
Do not forget to take a look at the Rhune, the famous mountain of the Basque country with a 900 metres high summit. This summit and border offers a splendid view on the ocean, the forest of Les Landes, and the Basque Pyrenees …
Amongst the most famous buildings of the Basque country you’ll find the Saint Jean Baptiste church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. This is where Louis XIV and the Infant of Spain wedded in 1660.
You’ll also find various museums and monuments in the Basque country, such as the musée de la mer in Biarritz, the musée Bonnat in Bayonne, the musée des beaux-arts in Pau, the château d’Antoine Abbadie in Hendaye, the château de Pau and the château d’Urtubie in Urrugne. Nature lovers can go for a walk through the forest of Arbailles in Ordiarp, visit the caves of Isturitz and Oxocelhaya in Saint Martin d’Arberoue, the cave of Sare, the gorges de Kakuetta and the zoo of Asson.