French Basque Country – Daily Schedule
NZ$4995 twin share
Interested in this tour? Contact Gail for more information!
Meet at St Jean-Pied de Port station in the afternoon. St Jean is the starting point for the French Way to St Jacques de Compostella, and you will see pilgrims carrying the traditional scallop shells. Select your bike and pedal to nearby St Etienne-de-Baigorri, a beautiful village tucked on the River Nive with typical Basque architecture and some remnants of the Roman occupation including a bridge. Welcome dinner tonight at the hotel.
Circuit ride in the valley of the Nive. A chance to see the production of the Ostau-Iraty sheep cheese (paddock to table), to sample the local wine of Irouleguy and the glorious Basque chocolate. All this and fantastic countryside too!
A walk in the Aldudes Valley, home of the ancient Basque breed of pig. Afterwards, explore the village and enjoy your dinner at leisure.
Transfer to Sare via Bidarray on the GR10. Bidarray is known for its tiny pottok horses, originally bred for the mines of North France and the UK, and for tasty saucisson... Visit the Pas de Roland, a site famous in French and Spanish legend. Sare is a true centre of Basque life. The court for the favourite game, pelote, the fronton, is right in the centre of town next to the town hall. With their town close to the Spanish border and a shared language, the men of Sare, known as workers of the night, have a lengthy reputation as smugglers – all types of contraband as well as Allied airmen during WWII. An important rite in the Basque year is the autumn capture of pigeons in the low passes behind Sare. Hopefully we will enjoy some of the captives at dinner tonight.
Take the 1m gauge funicular railway up La Rhune, a mountain sacred to the Basque people. Enjoy amazing views of the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Coast from Biarritz to Spain.
A day out in the Spanish Vais Pasco with lunch in a Michelin-starred asador (barbecu-er) specialising in foods smoked over many types of wood.
Transfer to St Jean de Luz and a hotel right by a noted surf beach. The route will take us past the famed pepper-growing village of Espelette and the former sorcerer town of St Pee on the Nivelle River. St Jean de Luz is the Atlantic equivalent of Nice on the Mediterranean coast.
A day out in Biarritz. In the Victorian era, Biarritz was one of the holiday places for the aristocracy, particularly the Russians and the British, and many buildings reflect this era. It still boasts up-market shopping and is also one of the prime surfing towns in Europe. The covered market is one of the best in the area.
Follow the coastal path into St Jean de Luz and the adjoining port of Ciboure, home of the composer of Bolero, Maurice Ravel. A short distance from here to the beaches and fort of Socoa. A chance to try some paddle boarding, windsurfing or a catamaran prior to a seafood lunch. There could be a chance this evening to go sardine fishing...
A day out in Bayonne, capital of the three French provinces of the Pays Basque, and known throughout the world for its splendid ham and chocolate. This became a Roman colony because the conquerors appreciated the langoustines and the local ham. The religious tolerance shown ot the Portugese and Spanish Jews led to Bayonne becoming the foremost European city for chocolate making and, though disputed by Bruges, it holds the title until today. Explore old Bayonne with its splendid cathedral built by tithes paid by the local whalers, and see their elaborate houses with forged iron balconies. The Musee Basque provides a wonderful overview of this special area.
Our tour finishes after breakfast in St Jean de Luz.
Tour Dates & Costs
NZ$4995 twin share
Included in each 11-day tour:
- Daily support vehicle (no panniers or backpacks needed!).
- Luggage and any purchases you make in the markets and antique shops can easily be transferred.
- An experienced facilitator with knowledge of the attractions, the people, and the history of the area.
- Quality accommodation in properties of character, for the most part with private facilities. We stay two to three
- nights on average in each place, using the base to explore the environs.
- All breakfasts, seven gourmet dinners featuring the best of regional specialties – including the special au revoir banquet on our final night, five lunchesincluding the sensational active gourmet picnics. Several times you’ll get the chance to ‘follow-your-own-nose’ for midday and evening meals.
- Our active gourmet tours offer a range of routes from undemanding to taxing, through the very heart of stunning countryside. High fitness levels aren’t essential though reasonable fitness is preferable.
- Pre-trip guidance (and cycle instruction is available if required).
- Tutored wine tasting and special events.
- Rest days and independent exploration possible (we supply very detailed maps which allow a choice of routes).
- Literature, including a detailed itinerary, clothing guide, use of large-scale maps of the area, and general advice on travelling in Europe.
- Daily briefing and guidance.
- Hire of quality mountain bike.
- Water bottle and hat.
- Luggage transfer between localities.
- A sense of adventure compulsory!
- Travel Insurance (mandatory).
- Chateau and museum entry fees (you choose!).
- Gratuities and drinks.
- Golf club hire and green fees, kayak hire where applicable.
- Fishing tackle hire and lessons where applicable.
- Visas and passports (as necessary).
- Personal items, e.g. laundry, telephone, faxes etc.
- Optional extras.
Footnote: The organiser reserves the right to change any details in this outline, should this prove necessary.
See our FAQ page for more information.
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