5 experiences in the French Basque Country

La Rhune

Surfing, mountains, charming villages and piment d’Espelette… Discover the best experiences in the French Basque Country to make the most of every facet of the region!

Nestled between France andSpain, the Basque Country boasts a wide variety of landscapes. Mountains that hint at the Pyrenees, meadows dotted with sheep, red half-timbered houses, rugged coasts, turbulent beaches… It’s hard to lack inspiration!

In this article, we present 5 experiences in the French Basque Country. Between sea, mountains and cultural discovery, they reveal all the facets of this unique region…

Surfing the Basque Atlantic coast

surf pays basque

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Alexander Demyanenko, Cassiede Alain

  • 📍 Location: Basque coast from Anglet to Hendaye
  • Duration: 1 half-day
  • 💙 We love: the sporting challenge and the incredible beaches

When you think of the Basque Country, you inevitably think of surfing. And with good reason: since the 1960s, the region has been considered the cradle of surfing in Europe. The miles of coastline offer a wide range of spots. From the tranquil bay of Hendaye to the giant wave of Belharra (one of the biggest in the world!), there’s something for every level.

Here are some of the most legendary surf spots in the Northern Basque Country:

  • Anglet’s Cavaliers beach is renowned for its tubular waves;
  • La Marinella in Anglet welcomes surf schools and beginners;
  • the Côte des Basques in Biarritz, suitable for all levels, offers a breathtaking view of the cliffs and the town’s Art Deco facades;
  • the 100 steps beach in Bidart, ideal for beginners, stands out for its wild setting;
  • Parlementaria in Guétary is reserved for experienced surfers who are not afraid of the rocks;
  • Lafitenia beach in Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a point break for experienced surfers;
  • the Grande Plage d’Hendaye offers small, close-knit waves, ideal for learning.

The good news is that you can surf all year round. In summer and winter alike, you can prolong the pleasure by finishing your session with a hearty meal… and just as well, the local cuisine is a real delight!

Taste Basque specialties on a gastronomic tour

gastronomie pays basque

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Foodpictures, Sergii Koval, Shark design

  • 📍 Location: all of the Basque Country!
  • 💙 We love: the variety of Basque cuisine and its unique flavour

Savoury specialities

Traditional dishes include piperade. Made with peppers, tomatoes and Espelette chili (of course), it’s a summertime fixture in every restaurant. Otherwise, Basque chicken andaxoa allow you to discover Basque flavors accompanied by meat.

Sweet specialties

There are several pastry shops vying for the title of best Basque cake, and it would be hard to decide. But to start small, treat yourself to a mini Basque cake from Maison Adam and enjoy it on Saint-Jean-de-Luz’s Grande Plage… Pleasure guaranteed!

Famous for its ham, Bayonne is also the historic capital of chocolate. Here you’ll find a multitude of confectionery shops and tea rooms, a must for a sweet break on a rainy day.

The aperitif

Let’s not forget that the Basque Country is also Spanish… If San Sebastian’s tapas deserve their success, they can also be found, albeit differently, on the French side. Here are a few ideas for experiences in the Basque Country to make the most of them:

  • Come to Bayonne in April for the ham festival and enjoy the festive atmosphere;
  • plan a trip to the inland Basque country to discover Ossau-Iraty ewe’s milk cheese;
  • visit the pretty village of Irouléguy and its vineyards, located in the heart of Basse Navarre in the shadow of the Pyrenees.

Venture up La Rhune in the Pyrenees

La Rhune

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Unai Huizi Photography

  • 📍 Location: the summit of La Rhune
  • Duration: 1 half-day
  • 💙 We love: the charm of the trails and the breathtaking view of the Atlantic coast.

La Rhune is an emblematic silhouette of the Basque Country. You can see it everywhere, from beaches to village squares. Climbing it is an unmissable experience in the Basque Country! Among the sheepfolds, streams and pottoks (the famous Basque ponies), you’ll discover breathtaking views of the land and the Atlantic Ocean.

How to climb the Rhune? The Train de la Rhune is an institution in the region. It’s an authentic 1920s cogwheel train that takes you up to an altitude of 905 meters in 35 minutes. In summer, it’s best to book in advance. Otherwise, you can take the trail that starts at the station. It offers splendid scenery, but is very busy.

To escape the crowds, you can take the Lizuniaga pass and Venta Negra. It’s a strenuous hike, but well worth it! Alternatively, you can set off from Ascain, crossing the Ihizelai plateau and the Miramar ridges. A real escape in the Basque Country.


The most beautiful roads in the Basque Country

paysages pays basque

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Unai Huizi Photography, Trabantos

  • 📍 Location: Corniche road, Iraty forest, Ispéguy pass and Adour river banks
  • Duration: 1 day
  • 💙 We love: the Basque soul at every turn

The Basque Country is an ideal region for road trips. The roads take you over mountain passes, through typical villages, along rivers and plunging into the Atlantic Ocean. Here are a few ideas for day-trip experiences in the Basque Country:

  • the Corniche road: linking Ciboure to Hendaye, the Corniche road is a must. It is one of the most beautiful stretches of the Basque coastline, and changes its face every day;
  • the Iraty forest tour: set off from Arnéguy to discover the wild and mysterious landscapes of the Iraty forest. The shepherd’s houses and flocks of sheep at Ipparalde, the Ossau-Iraty farms, the Orgambidesca and Bagargiak passes, the port of Larrau… many wonders await you;
  • Col d’Ispéguy: do you want to get some height? Near Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, you can climb the Col d’Ispéguy via the D949. The views are sublime, but the road is narrow and winding. Please take care!
  • the banks of the Adour: head for Hastingues to take the D261, which runs alongside the Adour river to the outskirts of Bayonne. Stop for a picnic at Bec du Gave and round off your road trip with a stroll along the Barre de l’Adour.

Discover France’s most beautiful villages

bastide clairence pays basque

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Kevin Eaves

  • 📍 Location: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, La-Bastide-Clairence, Ainhoa and Sare
  • Duration: 1 half-day
  • 💙 We love: the charm of traditional houses and breathtaking nature

Just take a drive along the roads of the inland Basque country and you’ll come across these villages, so characteristic of the region. Half-timbered houses, pelota courts and meadows bathed in light: you’ll recognize them at a glance. Because they stand out from the crowd in one way or another, four of them have been awarded the Plus Beaux Villages de France label:

  • Saint-Jean-Pied-Port: located on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela, this charming village sits atop a hill. It is crowned by a medieval castle, which offers a splendid panorama of the surrounding valleys;
  • La-Bastide-Clairence: this is where you’ll find the finest examples of Basque architecture. Some of them date back to the 16th century!
  • Ainhoa: behind this pretty name lies a bastide village. Built around a single street, it boasts splendid half-timbered facades. From Ainhoa, it’s a 45-minute walk to the Aubépine chapel. A beautiful walk;
  • Sare: located at the gateway to Spain and at the foot of the Rhune, Sare enjoys a breathtaking natural setting. But the village is also worth a visit for its unique character.


As you can see, experiences in the Basque Country can take on many faces. Here, even accommodations can become adventures in their own right… For a unique experience, discover the best unusual accommodations in the Basque Country!