Explore countryside of southwest France with a full-day excursion covering the Labourd, Basse-Navarre and Soule provinces of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques starting either from San Sebastián-Donostia or Hondarribia on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, or from the fishing port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz or Bayonne on the France side.
For genuine, un-touristy Basque flavor, venture a little further up the coast from the elegant, bustling resort of Biarritz to the quintessentially Basque city of Bayonne, or Baïona in Basque, once the most important commercial port on the coast and the spiritual capital of the Pays Basque.
A quick 15-minute drive up the autoroute from Saint-Jean-de-Luz is the elegant, stately, and formerly very staid, international resort, the crown jewel of the Côte Basque, a Four-Flower Village (Ville Fleurie) with a climate similar to Carmel, California. The more time we spend in Biarritz, the more we fall under its spell. While it can’t boast the exciting nightlife of its Spanish cousin San Sebastián-Donostia, just an hour away, it is a small city of great style, with a gorgeous coastline and stunning Belle Époque architecture.
Known as Donibane Lohizune in Basque, is a charming, lively, sophisticated, but extremely busy in summer, tuna, sardine and anchovy fishing port with 5 sandy beaches, turned tourist draw. Take a walk atop the seawall on the Promenade Jacques Thibault. Survey the sardine boats moored in the small, protected harbor, or stroll along the soft sandy beach, la grande Plage, which is the very best way to appreciate the town’s fine architecture.
The coastline of northern France includes white-chalk cliffs and WWII beachheads and is one of the most historical regions of the country. The unique Alabaster Coast extends for 45 kms between Le Havre and Fécamp. Visit the seaside resort of Deauville on the Côte Fleurie with its Belle Époque villas and half timbered buildings. Visit historic Rouen, the capital of Normandy. Explore the 500 years of medieval Normandy starting in Mont Saint Michel, on the border of Brittany. See the Bayeux Tapestry, the ruins of the Jumièges Abbey, the Château-Gaillard and the medieval village of Domfront. Enjoy the medieval fairs in the land of William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart and Joan of Arc.