The original idea was to take a train between Biarritz and San Sebastian. Fast, easy and extremely convenient. Luckily, as usual, there was some magical power watching over me! And I got to explore Pays Basque even more :)
I drove along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean down to the border with Spain. This was an excellent ‘modus operandi’. So do not miss this spectacular joyride.
The Pays Basque charms with its hilltop villages. Lovely beaches and strong culinary traditions. Slightly less recognised than its Spanish neighbour. It managed to put its spell on me. I was progressively falling for the region’s unspoilt countryside with every kilometre as we drove.
The Pays Basque is superbly picturesque. It is a plateau of greenery and water leaning against the Pyrenees. Lovely villages with red and white half-timber farmhouses make your eyes smile. Those traditional Pays Basque houses are called ‘Extea’ and are one of the most peculiar aspects and visual treats of travelling in this area. The timbers may be blue, green and brown. But burgundy red is king here. The effect is striking.
The cultural heritage, especially the folklore and gastronomic culture, blend in with the Spanish Basque. But the people seem to be awfully French in their mentality and manners. Oh well, as they say: ‘You can take a Frenchman out of France, but you will never take France out of him’. lol
Pays Basque Scenario
I started with a fantastic lunch at the Hotel Madrid in the lovely fishing village of Guethary. Later I took off to have a walk over this lovely fishing village and to admire skilful surfers dancing with waves.
Another stop not to be missed is St Jean de Luz. This charming jewel of the Pays Basque country has it all. An alluring medieval centre. Red shutters. Narrow streets and a beautiful beach. It has fine examples of Basque architecture from the Bell Tower to the Chateau d’Urtubie. Fantastic costal views from the lighthouse at Pointe Sainte Barbe and a lively port lined with colourful boats and fishermen pulling in catches of anchovies, sardines and tuna.
Here are the best seafood restaurants on the Cote Basque and the biggest Baroque Church in France where Louis XIV married Maria Theresa. Chick boutiques and cute little shops selling sweets and local products are like the cherry on a cake!
After some shopping for espadrilles and a coffee in th sun I was thinking it could not be better. But I was so wrong. It turns out that St Jean de Luz is the birthplace of my beloved macaroons! Back in 1660 Monsieur Adam created here the subtle and delicious almond macaroon which shortly took over France!
St Jean de Luz really has everything!