Double take on the Basque Country
A Land of a Resilient People
8 DAYS, 7 NIGHTS -- August 12, 2017 - August 19, 2017
On this tour you will experience the richness of both French and Spanish Basque life: in major towns, such as Bayonne, Biarritz, San Sebastian, Bilbao; in towns of historical significance: Guernica, St-Jean-Pied-de-Port; in villages noted for their special beauty: Ainhoa, Sare; along the rugged coast of the Bay of Biscay to San Sebastian; in the rural countryside of the Aldudes Valley. You will meet local "Euskaldun," join in Basque events, savor special dishes--in short, have a wonderful vacation that will be filled with treasured memories.
- Day 1: (Hotel near Biarittz)
- Arrive in Biarittz, check into hotel.
- Short drive to Biarritz, for a welcome stroll on the beach promenade.
- Apéritif and orientation on the Basque region.
- Day 2: (Hotel near Biarittz)
- After a short drive we will meet our local guide in Bayonne for a guided tour of historic Bayonne. Once a Roman fort, later British as part of the dowry of Eleanor of Aquitaine, it was joined to France in the 15th century.
- Visit the Musée Basque et de l'histoire de Bayonne (museum focusing on Basque culture and the history of Bayonne).
- Late afternoon
- Enjoy a Bayonne specialty dating back to the Spanish conquistadors--a thick, rich, spicy hot chocolate drink. Gentle walk along the colorful riverfront district of the Nive River.
- Free time to explore the old streets of Bayonne, shop for local specialties or visit the Bonnat Museum.
- Day 3: (Hotel near Biarittz)
- Guided visit of Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
- Guided tour of Biarritz. The town began as a small Basque whaling station, but was transformed 150 years ago into an internationally renowned seaside resort, thanks to Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoléon III.
- Guided walking tour of Saint-Jean-de-Luz to see the handsome 17th- and 18th-century houses built for merchants and ship builders, and the famous church where Louis XIV was married to Maria Teresa of Castile in 1660.
- Late afternoon
- Walk along the coastal corniche to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, enjoying superb views of the Atlantic Coast, the sandy bay and magnificent harbor, and the picturesque houses of the port.
- Day 4: (Hotel near Biarittz)
- A day in Spain's Basque country. Visit Bilbao and Guernica.
- Visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Bilbao is perhaps best known for its dramatic ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum. The city itself, though, is fascinating: a cultural, governmental and economic center of the region.
- A drive of about 40 minutes will take you from urban Bilbao to the small rural town of Guernica. The town, which was once the seat of government for the Basques, still stands as a symbol of Basque independence. Most of us, however, know the town from Pablo Picasso's mural depicting the terrible tragedy of war and its effects on ordinary people.
- Day 5: (Hotel near Biarittz)
- Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Roncevaux and return by the Aldudes Valley.
- Drive to the beautiful inland village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, once an important stopover for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. After visiting Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and before lunch in Aurizberri-Espinal, Spain, we will stop at the Roncevaux Pass.
- We will drive down the Aldudes Valley through foothills where you will find picturesque villages, farms raising pigs that provide the Basque country's famous ham and cheese-making farms.
- Day 6: (Hotel near Biarittz)
- Explore the Gipuzkoa cost (Spain's Basque country province)..
- Visit San SebastiáÏn (Donostia) on the southern coast of the Bay of Biscay. As the New York Times article of August 4, 2011 says: "To visit San Sebastián, on Spain's northern coast, is to fall in love. The first sight of the shimmering scallop-shaped bay, replete with crescents of golden sand and turquoise waves, will sweep you off your feet."
- On our way to Hondarribia, we will stop to visit the Spanish fishing village of Pasaia Donibane (Pasajes de San Juan).
- Drive and walk in the foothills of the Pyrénées for spectacular views of the Bay of Biscay. Before arriving in Fontarrabie or Fuenterrabía (Hondarribia), we will drive up to and through the Jaizkibel mountain range for a panoramic view of the Basque coast.
- Day 7: (Hotel near Biarittz)
- We will visit the villages of Cambo-les-Bains, Espelette, Ainhoa, and Zugarramurdi or Sare.
- Visit Cambo-les-Bains and the Villa Arnaga, lovely home and formal gardens built by Edmond Rostand, author of "Cyrano de Bergerac."
- You know you have arrived in Espelette when you see curtains of bright red peppers hanging to dry on the walls of the village homes and shops. Hot peppers, or "piments d'Espelette," are the main product of this colorful village.
- Visit Ainhoa, one of the region's prettiest and most traditional villages. With its idyllic setting at the foot of the mountain and its traditional Basque-style houses, Ainhoa well deserves its official status as one of "the most beautiful villages of France."
- Day 8:
- Tour ends after breakfast. Your guides will drive you to the Biarittz train station or airport, where you can take the train or flight back home, or to your next destination.
Guided visit of Bayonne
Pelote game in Ascain
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
ATSULAÏ Basque choral
Double take on the Basque Country
8 DAYS, 7 NIGHTS