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Guided holidays
7 nights - 5 half days of walking - plus other visits
Level :
Itinerary : One Centre
Holiday code : FP1PUSZ
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Slowly Discovering The Best Of Basque Coast & Country

A Slow Holiday in a small group lead by a knowledgeable bi-lingual guide who will help you discover the many and varied delights of traditional Basque culture - not least delightful villages and a distinctive cuisine - as well as its stunning natural highlights of lakes and mountains, cliffs, beaches and coastline. You stay in a comfortable, peaceful hotel in its own grounds with pool, tennis etc near the beach and facinating town of Saint Jean de Luz - indisputably the pearl of the Cote Basque.

A summary of your journey

This is where the Pyrenees meets the Atlantic ocean, and it's a unique micro-climate with rich, green valleys, dramatic coastlines and panoramic mountain tops combined with an equally unique and much treasured Basque culture with language, cuisine, sports, architecture, crafts and history found nowhere else - and as Spanish as it is French. You don't know the Pyrenees until you know the Basque country, and this holiday enables you to "get under its skin" in a gentle, slow and entirely pleasurable way. What's more you stay the whole week in one very good hotel with heated swimming pool, good food, all the comforts, and close to a lovely beach and vibrant St Jean de Luz. You will indeed discover the best of the Basque country and coast - slowly!

The plus points

  • A slow yet fascinating discovery of Basque culture and the Atlantic Pyrenees landscape
  • A small group led by a knowledgeable bi-lingual guide
  • The absolute highlights of the region - French and Spanish - discovered largely by walking
  • An excellent comfortable hotel with varied cuisine and restaurant visits
  • Two of the most beautiful villages in France plus St Jean de Luz and San Sebastian

Le programme

Day 1

We meet you at Biarritz airport (daily flights from London Stansted), or rail station (TGV from Paris), and transfer to the St Jean-de -Luz hotel.
We know and use dozens of hotels in the region, but when it came to a hotel for a whole week we immediately decided on Hotel Erromardie. It's one of those places you enjoy and appreciate more the longer you stay there. For a start, it's welcoming and well managed. The grounds are well maintained and the rooms fully equipped and spotless. There's plenty to do - heated swimming pool, tennis, table tennis, pelote court - and plenty of opportunities to relax - loungers, quiet corners of the extensive gardens and a good bar too. The restaurant is good, although you also eat in other local restaurants. Then there is the location just 200 metres from a beach good for relaxing and being active, and a mile or so outside the centre of St Jean de Luz (1 Euro shuttle bus, takes 5 minutes) - and that is the final "clincher" because it is a wonderfully vibrant town we're sure you'll enjoy taking time to discover.
After settling in, you will meet your travelling companions before dinner. Numbering between 5 and 15 (including you), it is likely to be a group from several countries who speak English and French. Your knowledgeable and affable guide is professionally qualified, a regional expert and bi-lingual, so you need only ever speak in English if you choose to. We're sure you'll enjoy this first evening in varied ways.

Day 2

On your first full day, and having been given an introduction to the itinerary, and to St Jean de Luz and its vicinity, you'll be free to discover what interests you at the speed that suits you. Time in the hotel grounds? The beach? The town? All three? Your decisions.
You stay again at the Hotel Erromardie.

Day 3

Today we take you first of all to a typically Basque village - Ainhoa, officially one of the most beautiful villages in France - where you'll begin to understand Basque history, culture and architecture. From there you start a pleasantly varied walk up through the rich, rolling landscape of fields, woods and moorland so typical of Basque country. You walk up to the col of the three crosses, then to the 2,000 foot peak on Mount Erebi (an easy walk actually) and along a ridge to the simple, but simply stunningly located, chapel of Arantze. All this way, there are panoramic views down on Ainhoa, to the Atlantic rolling in towards St Jean de Luz, the coastline sweeping round into Spain, and up to La Rhune and the foothills of the Pyrenees. There will also be pottocks near and far, and you'll learn about them too. Driving back, you visit the lovely village of Espelette famous for its ubiquitous red peppers - and very popular festival celebrating them.
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours. Elevation: + 350m / - 350m. Transfer time: 1 hour.

Day 4

Today is a coast discovery day with a magnificent walk along the cliff tops, bays and beaches as well as through "tunnels" of the rich green vegetation from Bidart and Guéthary to the Pointe Sainte-Barbe where you can see the Atlantic rollers crashing in on one side, and the more gentle swell of the protected St Jean de Luz bay on the other. You'll also have a guided tour of the town (on foot of course) followed by a typically Basque fish oriented meal in an authentic restaurant behind the fishing harbour packed with the trawlers that might have caught your dinner.
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours. Elevation: + 150m / - 150m.

Day 5

Spain: that's where you are going today to compare and contrast French Basque and Spanish Basque country and culture. There's no better place to start that than the delightfully historic fishing village of Donibane Pasaia clinging to the edge of the bay, and packed with timber and brick houses from the 16th century onwards. Thank goodness for a guide who can tell you all about it, and the two mountains (Jaizkibel and Ullia) that flank the village descending right down to the sea. You take a short ferry ride across the the inlet, and join the Camino del Norte, the coastal camino that is a much more interesting way to get to Santiago de Compostela, up to the Plata lighthouse high on a headland, then follow the path into the superbly atmospheric town of San Sebastian. Here again our guide will take you down tiny streets to show you ancient houses and so much that is almost unconsciously (but also very definitely) Basque. The walk ends on the justly renowned Concha beach.
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours. Elevation: + 300m / - 300m. Transfer time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Day 6

You will have seen in several times at a distance, but today is the day to climb to the top of it: the 3,000 feet La Rhune, the iconic mountain of the region. The magnificent 360 degree views are of ocean, mountains (stretching endlesly into the distance eastwards), the coast and plains below. Now, the choice is yours: you can walk up, and take the cog railway that was built in 1924, and is as characterful as it is useful, down, or ride up and walk down, or walk up and down. Whatever, we think you'll really enjoy the experience, which includes an informative centre at the top. We will then take you to visit another of the officially most beautiful villages in France, Sare, where you can smugly look up at what you have climbed. It's famous for originating the ubiquitous Basque cake, but the houses, pelote court right in the centre, the 16th and17th century houses and the cheeses (!) tell you more about this lovely village and its history.
Walking time: 2 or 4 hours. Elevation: + 700m / - 700m. Transfer time: 45 minutes.

Day 7

This is a fittingly memorable last day that combines mountain, coast and town. We drive into Spain to begin walking in the foothills of the huge Jaizkibel mountain that reach down to the ocean as we walk beside creeks and small bays, cliffs and beaches to the end of the Figuier cape from where the border is immediately below us - Hondarrabia on the Spanish side (more of which later) and Hendaye on the French. It's an excellent and varied walk, and culminates in a walking tour of the fortified city of Hondarrabia, historically known as Fontarrabie (3 battles, one seige, lots to discover). To celebrate a wonderful week, there is an evening of gastronomic tapas (known here as pintxos) in Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours. Elevation: + 300m / - 300m. Transfer time: 1 hour.

Day 8

After breakfast, all that's left to do is bid everyone fond farewells before the short transfer to Biarritz airport or rail station. Will you have discovered the best of the Basque country and coast slowly? We are sure you will agree that you have.
  • Détails Pratiques
  • Formalités et Santé

MEETING POINT

We collect you from, and take you back to, Biarritz airport or rail station.

END OF YOUR TRIP

After breakfast on the last day we take you to Biarritz airport, or rail station.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

This holiday features comfortable walking with some short, steep slopes, usually 3 hours or so a day, so is suitable for people who are reasonably fit, and used to walking (albeit "gently") for a few hours a day. Only the La Rhune walk is fairly hard, but there is the cog railway option up and/or down (not included). It can get fairly hot in July and August (but nothing like as hot as on the Mediterranean side) as well as more crowded. We would recommend from mid May through June, and from mid August through September and well into October as the best months.

Departure Guaranteed from ( No. Pers)

5

GR

15

LUGGAGE TRANSPORT

All you need to carry when walking is a daysack with whatever you regard as essentials, and, where relevant, your picnic.

GUIDE

This holiday is led by an experienced, bi-lingual guide with mountain walking qualifications and a wide knowledge of the region. You need only speak English if you so choose.

ACCOMMODATION

You stay in the three star hotel as specified in spacious double or twin rooms with en suite facilities, and ocean or mountain views.

MEALS

You will eat well. Dinners are based on set menus featuring regional specialities usually with a choice for each of the three courses, but you can pay locally for upgraded choices. There are also two dinners in characterful local restaurants.

TRANSFERS

Journeys by road are by comfortable minibus, or taxi.

To make the right choice

Have a look at our detailed explanations on the types of hiking, the standards of accommodation, and understand baggage transport ... How to choose your trip ?

FORMALITIES

You need to keep your passport with you at all times, and ideally insurance information. You need to make your own arrangements to claim local healthcare. There are requirements in France and Spain for all vehicles to carry safety equipment.
Click on the price that corresponds to your choice.
FromToDeparture assured fromprice
Sat 19/10/2019Sat 26/10/20195 pers.925 €  (₤ 800)
Sat 04/04/2020Sat 11/04/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
Sat 11/04/2020Sat 18/04/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
Sat 18/04/2020Sat 25/04/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
Sat 25/04/2020Sat 02/05/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
Sat 02/05/2020Sat 09/05/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
Sat 09/05/2020Sat 16/05/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
Sat 16/05/2020Sat 23/05/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
Sat 23/05/2020Sat 30/05/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
Sat 30/05/2020Sat 06/06/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
Sat 06/06/2020Sat 13/06/20205 pers.1 025 €  (₤ 887)
 
List of additional options (to select later)
TitleTime periodPrice
Single room sup. / pers. from 05/10/2019 to 01/11/2019320 € (₤ 277)
Single room sup. / pers. from 04/04/2020 to 13/06/2020450 € (₤ 390)

THE PRICE INCLUDES

7 nights dinner, bed and breakfast; picnics on days 2 to 7, people transfers as specified; the daily services of the bi-lingual guide; 24/7 customer phone service if additional support is required.

THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

Transfers at the start and end of the holiday except from and to Biarritz airport or station; drinks with meals; non-standard menu items; entry fees; booking fee, personal and travel insurance.
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