Want to spend a picturesque break visiting typical villages beside the Atlantic Ocean and at the foot of the Pyrenees? Then head in the direction of the Basque Country! The ocean beaches popular with surfers are not the only must-see destinations: the charming Basque villages inland are worth the detour.
On the programme of your heritage getaway: Hasparren, Cambo-les-Bains, Espelette, Sare, Ainhoa, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Bidarray. Shall we take you too?
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A traditional Basque village in essence, Hasparren is the capital of Basque culture. Folk dances, Basque strongman games, pelota and Basque choirs are all unmissable local traditions. Set at the heart of lush green hills, the village of Hasparren will not fail to move those who love nature and fresh air.
For lunch, we invite you to a farm located at altitude, offering a superb view over the summit of La Rhune and Mondarrain peak. You will have the choice of tasting farm-produced local products and regional specialities in a cosy atmosphere.
Before reaching Espelette, stop at Cambo-les-Bains, a thermal resort between the ocean and mountains. There you will visit the Villa Arnaga and its gardens, a neo-Basque architectural jewel and former residence of the writer Edmond Rostand, author of Cyrano de Bergerac. Today the villa is a museum classified as a historic monument.
Continue your walk through the garden of the Cambo-les-Bains thermal baths: a space dedicated to strolling and relaxation, where lush, exotic vegetation grows along the Nive. It is unthinkable to leave Cambo-les-Bains without stopping for treats at the town’s chocolate museum. The owners will be happy to share their passion for chocolate with you.
Reach your hotel in the heart of the village of Espelette at the end of the day. You will be welcomed in a warm and friendly atmosphere and will make new culinary discoveries at dinner. You will also have the option to take your breakfast on the terrace with a view over the mountains.
The small village of Espelette is worth a visit before continuing your journey in the Basque inland areas. Authentic Espelette is a must-see with its beautiful houses, the facades of which are sometimes covered with chilli peppers, the restored castle, church and many wash houses. Push open the door of the Chilli Pepper Workshop for a discovery visit, followed by a tasting in the company of the pepper producer and processor.
Then head to Sare, a village surrounded by mountains and the inheritor of an important archaeological heritage. Sare has five prehistoric caves to visit without hesitation: Lezea, Urio Gaina, Urio Behera, Leze ttiki and Faardiko harria.
Last step for this second day: Aïnhoa is certified as one of the most beautiful villages of France for the originality of its architecture, beauty of its natural environment and gastronomic reputation. In Aïnhoa you will be accommodated in a charming Basque house that combines the comfort of a modern hotel with the conviviality of a nicely decorated family home. At the restaurant, the chef will suggest a traditional Basque cuisine based on seasonal products.
For this third and last day, head to the walled town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, also classified among the most beautiful villages in France. The town’s history from the fortified castle to the citadel reworked by Vauban, will be revealed during the guided tour.
On the way back, enjoy a gourmet break in Bidarray where you can enjoy local products and the splendid view of the Basque mountains, while settled on a terrace.