Nestled between the towering Pyrenees and the majestic Atlantic Ocean, the Basque Country of France is a hidden gem, bursting with natural beauty, vibrant culture, and a unique heritage that dates back thousands of years. This picturesque region is famed for its stunning landscapes, rich traditions, world-renowned cuisine, and lively festivals. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an outdoor enthusiast, or a beach lover, the Basque Country offers something for everyone.

In this guide, we’ve curated the ultimate list of activities to experience the true spirit of the Basque Country. From the surfing hotspot of Biarritz and the charming coastal town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, to the lively Basque festivals and the mouthwatering local cuisine, our guide covers it all. Let’s dive into the richness and diversity of this mesmerizing region, and explore the best of what the French Basque Country has to offer!

Things to Do in Basque Country France

Visit Biarritz

Biarritz, a stylish beach town perched on the French Basque Country’s rugged coastline, offers an enchanting fusion of sophisticated elegance and bohemian beach vibes. The Grande Plage is the city’s largest and most popular beach. Renowned as a surfing hotspot, Biarritz lures surfers from around the globe to ride its glorious waves. Beyond surfing, you can stroll around the bustling city, exploring its luxury boutiques, quaint cafes, and bustling markets. Don’t miss the iconic Biarritz Lighthouse which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the ocean.

Explore Saint-Jean-de-Luz

Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a charming coastal town, boasting a serene sandy bay, bustling fishing port, and vibrant marketplaces. It’s a great place to soak in the local Basque culture. Don’t forget to visit the House of Louis XIV, an intriguing glimpse into royal history where the Sun King stayed before his marriage to Maria Theresa of Spain.

Tour Bayonne

As the capital of the French Basque Country, Bayonne is a town steeped in rich history and brimming with culture. It’s famous for its delicious chocolates and distinctive Bayonne ham. Your tour can include visits to its Gothic-style Cathedral, the Basque Museum showcasing local traditions, and the charming old town that narrates tales of the past.

Take a stroll around Bayonne’s medieval old town, a delightful space adorned with half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and chocolate boutiques. The area’s Gothic cathedral stands majestically against the city skyline, while the lovely riverfront offers peaceful walks and picturesque views.

Hiking in the Pyrenées

The Pyrenées mountain range, straddling the border between France and Spain, is a haven for outdoorsy types. It offers numerous hiking trails with varying difficulty levels. The popular La Rhune trail and the GR10 route provide stunning panoramic views that make every step worth the climb.

Tour Espelette Village

Famed for its peppers, the village of Espelette is a charming place, showcasing classic Basque houses, vibrant farms, and the pretty St. Etienne Church. The village has a unique identity, with its peppers used in dishes across the region. Be sure to pick up some Espelette pepper products as a spicy souvenir!

Visit the picturesque Espelette village, famous for its dried red peppers. These peppers, used as a spice in many Basque dishes, have shaped the region’s culinary identity. Take a leisurely stroll around the village, appreciating its rustic charm and authenticity.

Take a Day Trip to San Sebastian

Just across the Spanish border lies the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastian. Known for its scenic beaches, mouthwatering pintxos, and vibrant nightlife, a day trip to San Sebastian provides a refreshing Spanish counterpart to your French Basque adventure.

Surf at Hossegor

Considered the prime surfing spot in France, Hossegor’s miles of sandy beaches and exceptional waves attract professional and amateur surfers alike. Test your skills, watch the experts, or simply enjoy the laid-back beach atmosphere.

Enjoy Basque Cuisine

Basque cuisine is a delightful culinary journey, merging traditional Basque ingredients with innovative techniques. Be sure to try traditional Basque dishes such as pintxos (bite-sized culinary masterpieces similar to Spanish tapas), axoa (a veal stew), and Gâteau Basque (a traditional Basque cake filled with black cherry jam or custard).

Attend a Local Festival

The Basque country is renowned for its lively festivals. Festivals like the Bayonne Festival (Fêtes de Bayonne) are a kaleidoscope of music, dance, and traditional Basque sports. Attending a local festival provides a unique insight into the vibrant Basque culture and traditions.

Explore the Basque Coast

The Basque coastline is a breathtaking spectacle, with dramatic cliffs, idyllic beaches, and charming seaside resorts. Hiking along the coastline is a must-do, offering you stunning views of the Atlantic and the chance to discover secluded spots away from the crowds.

Experience a Cesta Punta Game

Also known as Jai Alai, Cesta Punta is a fast-paced game native to the Basque region. Hailed as the fastest game in the world, it offers a thrilling spectacle. Watching a game is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and join in the passionate cheering of the crowds.

Museum of Basque and the History of Bayonne

To truly appreciate the Basque Country, a visit to the Museum of Basque and the History of Bayonne is highly recommended. Here, you can learn about the region’s rich history, cultural heritage, and the unique traditions of the Basque people. The museum provides a deeper understanding of the area, enriching your Basque Country experience.

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