Hiking in the Basque Country (May 2020)
Is the Basque Country a destination for hiking lovers?
The Basque Country owes its beautiful relief to the foothills of the Pyrenees that line the Atlantic coast on the Bay of Biscay, both in France and in Spain. Gentle hills, medium-high up to the high mountains, these are all the Basque Pyrenees. The Atlantic coast is also excellent for hiking.
One of the most famous French hiking trails, the GR 10, (GR stands for Grande Randonnée) crosses the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. It generally takes four weeks to walk from one sea to another.
Hiking in the Basque Country means being able to observe vultures up close, and to meet small Basque wild poneys (pottok), sheep, horses and cows on your walk. The Basque landscape is lush and green, with a rich and largely natural flora and fauna. Often you can see the sea during your walks, the eye always moves with you, so to speak.
On the French side of the Atlantic Ocean, there is a picturesque 25 km long coastal footpath from Bidart to Hendaye, which you can walk along in several stages. We recommend the most beautiful sections to our guests in our own travel guide. Wonderful views of the sea with romantic bays, great vegetation and beautiful landscape await the hiker on this trail.
A special hiking experience on the Spanish side is also the section from Pasaia to San Sebastiàn (duration about 2h). Coming from the mountain, you walk towards San Sebastiàn and this unique city with its two coves is at your feet, a truly breathtaking spectacle.
The symbol of the Basque mountains is the mountain "La Rhune" near the coast at the foot of the Col de Saint-Ignace near the beautiful village of Sare. In Basque mythology "La Rhune" (905 m) plays a special role. Climbing this mountain is a must for every traveller to the Basque Country. From the summit you can enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of the sea and mountains. Those who do not want to climb up and/or down can comfortably travel the route in 35 minutes on the authentic rack railway dating from 1924.
There are also countless hiking trails in the French Basque Country. Many of them are listed in well-structured French hiking guides distributed by the tourist offices in Cambo-les-Bains and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
This beautiful village should be familiar to all friends of the Caminos of St. James. From Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port starts the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain (800 km).
If you are spending your holidays at BaskoParadis in Louhossoa, you can start hiking right away from your holiday apartment / Eco-Gites. We are happy to share our favourite hikes with you.
So is the Basque Country a destination for hiking lovers? We answer this question with a resounding YES!
Holidays in the Basque Country (April 2020)
What distinguishes the Basque Country as a holiday destination?
Many people are familiar with the Basque Country because of its problematic recent past, but what the Basque Country is now like and why it is an interesting and enriching holiday destination is far less known.
The Spanish Basque Country comprises the three provinces of Gipuzkoa, Biscay and Alava. The capital of the region is Vitoria-Gasteiz. Well-known and important cities in the region are Bilbao and San Sebastian. A city that suffered a lot during the 2nd World War and was made immortal by Pablo Picasso by its painting Guernika.
The French Basque Country consists of the three provinces Labourd (where our BaskoParadis is located), Soule and Basse-Navarre.
Geographically, the Basque Country (called "Euskal Herria" in Basque) covers part of southwest France and northwest Spain. It lines the Atlantic Ocean on the Bay of Biscay and its relief is dominated by the Pyrenees. The Spanish part (the southern Basque Country "Hegoalde") accounts for 85% of the total area, and France for 15% (the French Basque Country is called "Iparralde" in Basque).
The list of sports possibilities is almost endless:
In the mountains it is hiking, paragliding, caving, climbing, mountain biking, racing cycling, horse and donkey riding, ice skating, inline skating, golf, jogging, gliding and miniature golf with sea views.
On water it is rafting, canoe kayak, surfing, stand up paddling (SUP), bodyboard, kite surfing, windsurfing, canyoning, swimming, bathing and fishing (river and Atlantic).
For physical wellness, various thalassotherapy centres are available: Thalasso Spa Serge Blanco in Hendaye, Thalassotherapy Spa Hélianthal in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Thalasso Atlanthal Anglet, Thalasso Thalmar Biarritz and Thalassa sea & Spa Sofitel Le Miramar in Biarritz. There is also a wonderful thermal spa and beauty institute in Cambo-les-Bains, just 10 minutes from BaskoParadis.
The Basque microclimate is determined by the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees. The average winter temperatures are mild 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. We rarely see snow. The Basque Country cannot do without rain all year round. A Basque proverb also says that you can experience all four seasons in one day. In summer it can be quite warm (up to 35 degrees Celsius), but if so, then only for a few days. The summer temperatures are on average very pleasant.
The Basque architecture is unique and the Basque farmhouse is a pillar of Basque culture. The Basque takes loving care of his house and garden and it is not unusual for our guests to compare the Basque country with the cultivated cleanliness of Switzerland. Some of the villages that have been awarded as the most beautiful villages in France are located in the Basque Country (Sare, Labastide-Clairence, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Ainhoa). The seaside resorts of Biarritz, Bidart, Guéthary, Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye are equally beautiful in different ways. Hondarribia is a pretty little Spanish border town and the most beautiful of all Atlantic pearls is undoubtedly San Sebastian in the Spanish Basque Country, perhaps even the most beautiful coastal town in the world.
The Basque gastronomy is sensational. The Basque Country has pro capita the highest density of starred restaurants. We recommend to our guests our favourite restaurants in our specially created personal travel guide.
The Basque culture is very much alive and not just folkloric imitations of old times. The Basque language is cherished and cultivated, taught in schools and is considered an official second language. Its origin is not yet fully understood, but it is certain that it is a very old language. The Basques are tradition-conscious and proud of their origins. In the countless village festivals archaic competitions of strength take place, the force basque. There is traditional Basque dancing and music. The Basques are famous for their beautiful powerful singing voices. In each village there is a pelota court with its characteristic wall (fronton), on which pelota is played, the game of all Basque games.
Our guests are always very impressed by the kindness and helpfulness of the Basque people and feel very welcome.
If you are looking for authenticity far from all the clichés of mass tourism, the Basque Country is definitely the right place for you. The Basque Country combines French, Spanish and Basque culture, offers breathtaking mountain and coastal landscapes, beautiful places, hospitable inhabitants, great food, mild climate, an enormous number of leisure activities and is considered a real insider tip in Europe.
Ongi etorri ororo! A warm welcome to all!