A 3-Day French Basque Country Itinerary You’ll Want To Fly
Last updated on September 10, 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
Sun, sea and gastronomy: if there is a destination to add to your French bucket list, it is the French Basque Country. Here are your ultimate 3 days in the Itinerary French Basque Countryincluding what to know before you go.
The French Basque Country is part of the wider Basque region, whose territory is shared equally between France and Spain. Culturally, the Spanish Basque region and the French Basque region are inextricably linked; sharing both the same language (Basque) and the same customs.
Where to stay in the Basque Country
If you had to base yourself in one place during your stay in the French Basque Country, I would suggest you stay in Biarritz. After all, thanks to the excellent transport links to nearby towns, you won’t have to rent a car at all during your trip.
The city is quite large, which means there are plenty of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets. Here are some of the best places to stay in town based on web reviews and location:
Cheap accommodation in Biarritz: For those looking to stay somewhere in Biarritz on a budget, a great option is Utopy Hostel Biarritz. Although it’s a bit farther from town than some other accommodation options, highlights include luggage storage and Wi-Fi. Check prices and availability here.
Mid-range accommodation in Biarritz: A three-star hotel with amenities such as Wi-Fi and a location 10 minutes’ walk from the beach, Hotel Maitagarria is a great mid-range option. Check prices and availability here.
Luxury hotel in Biarritz: The real cream of the crop when it comes to staying in Biarritz is Hotel Du Palais Biarritz. This grand palace is now classified as a historical monument and was built by Napoleon III for his wife Eugénie.
Indeed, the shape of the palate is in ‘E’. Since 1893, the resort has been used as a luxury hotel and is now owned by Hyatt. Now classified as a 5-star hotel, facilities include a swimming pool, spa and some rooms have views of the beach. Check prices and availability here.
Biarritz also makes a great base to start each day as there are a number of excellent breakfast options and so I would personally choose to enjoy a croissant and coffee at one of the many cafes in town before setting off for a day of exploration. . Some of the best cafes in Biarritz include MAMAKA COFFEE SHOP and Lobita Café.
Day 1 in the French Basque Country
The first day of this itinerary will be devoted to the discovery of Bayonne, a charming town famous for its large Gothic cathedral and its half-timbered houses. Buses to Bayonne leave regularly from Biarritz (every half hour during the day).
Just take the T1 near the tourist office (you can buy tickets from the vending machines at the bus stop) and the bus will take you to Bayonne in about half an hour. Make sure to validate your ticket as soon as you get on the bus otherwise you risk a fine.
Once in Bayonne, start your day by heading to the Botanical Garden, known as Jardin Botanique in French. These self-guided gardens are open Tuesday through Saturday and are also known as the Jardin Botanique des Remparts.
Then head to Bayonne Cathedral, which is free to visit. Dedicated to Saint Mary, the ecclesiastical building was built between the 13th and 17th centuries and is a mixture of Gothic and Romanesque architecture.
The church is not the first on the site and was in fact built on the site of an old place of worship which burned down in 1258. Next to it, the perfectly preserved cloister can be visited freely and dates from the 13th century. Please note that the cloisters are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
If you are looking for a trendy and modern place that serves specialty coffees and has vegan and vegetarian options on the menu (as well as a Sunday brunch), then you need look no further than Café Muxu. The café is a stone’s throw from the cathedral and offers outdoor seating in the summer.
After lunch there are several other attractions that Bayonne has to offer. There is a museum on the history of the French Basque Country and a covered market place which dates from the 19th century.
Otherwise, one of the greatest pleasures of a stay in Bayonne is simply to wander around and let the city reveal itself to you. Alternatively, if you want to experience the city with a local, you can book a walking tour. like this one.
Day 2 in the French Basque Country
Day two of this guide to the southwest will focus on Biarritz, a beautiful city that takes a full day to explore. The city is quite compact, but spread over several levels, so be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking!
Start your day by heading to the Phare de Biarritz (Biarritz lighthouse), where you can climb the 248 steps for an additional fee. From the top, you can enjoy beautiful views around Biarritz and discover the lay of the land as far as the city is concerned.
Then, return to the city for shopping. Thanks to its status as a luxury seaside resort, Biarritz offers all manner of shopping, from foodie havens to designer boutiques like Hermès. One of my favorite shops is actually the Biarritz bookshop, which sells many books, including tomes about the local French Basque region.
Special things to buy in Biarritz include espadrilles (the woven and canvas shoe is native to the region), chilli products, local hams, Basque fabrics (there are shops entirely dedicated to linen scattered all over the city) and woven baskets and bags.
Back in town, one of the best places to have lunch is at Les Halles, where casual eateries sit alongside vendors selling fresh cheeses, meats, fruits and vegetables. The 19th century hall is covered and is a particularly pleasant place to taste local specialities.
Spend the afternoon relaxing on one of the town’s many beautiful beaches and exploring the coastal paths that wind through Biarritz’s seaside. A highlight worth noting is Port Vieux beach (which is friendlier to swimmers and sunbathers than the nearby Grande Plage). Alternatively, you can book a guided walking tour like this one.
Spend the rest of your daylight hours like the locals do enjoying the sunset at Rocher de la Vierge. This uniquely shaped rock resembles the hull of a ship, is free to visit, and juts out to sea. emblematic Villa Belza.
Finally, end your day on the right foot by dining at Crampotte 30, a guinguette which has a small fishing port as a backdrop. The menu is developed tapas style and the idea is to take several small dishes to share with friends or family.
Day 3 in the French Basque Country
The third day of this Biarritz itinerary will focus on a few different towns and villages along the French Basque coast. It is easy to get there from Biarritz, although unfortunately there is no direct bus to reach these hidden gems.
Again, as with Bayonne, buses to other towns in the region leave near the tourist office. There is a small bus information point (not to be confused with the tourist office itself) where you can get leaflets/brochures regarding timetables and prices.
Make the first stop of the day in Guéthary. The charming town of Guéthary is something of a hidden gem on the French Basque coast. Small and compact, it’s easy enough to explore in a few hours.
Some of the highlights include enjoying ice cream at Chez Kutsu, wild beaches and visiting the dry fishing port. It is one of the only types of ports of its kind in France and is where fishing boats are launched and launched each time they are used, instead of being moored directly in the water.
After visiting Guéthary, it is time to take the bus back to Saint Jean de Luz. A sparkling jewel of the French Basque coast, the town of Saint Jean de Luz is a charming fishing port that combines charm and history.
One of the best ways to enjoy St Jean de Luz is to stroll along the seawall. A stroll along this promenade will reward you with views of both the sea and the Basque town. The Saint Jean de Luz lighthouse is no longer in use but can also be seen walking along the seawall.
Other highlights of the city include grabbing an ice cream in Bargeton, having a drink in Place Louis XIV (this is also where you can have lunch) and visiting one of the many churches in the city. If you have more time, you can also walk to Ciboure or even further along the coast to the Fort de Socoa.
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