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EXPLORING THE CHARMING BEAUTY OF THE FRENCH BASQUE COUNTRY

Updated: May 2


Biarritz, Côte basque
Biarritz, France


will delve into our exploration of the coast, particularly our visits to Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and Bayonne, nestled along the picturesque French Basque coast. These few days were a true adventure, filled with enchanting discoveries, breathtaking landscapes, and an authentic culture that captivated us from the very first moment. Be sure to also check out our other two articles on our visit to the Basque Country: "Epicurean Escapades in the Basque Hinterland" and "A Day in San Sebastian: A whirlwind adventure."



Bidart: Haven of Peace 


Sunset in Bidart
View from our room at Villa L'Arche

For our escapade in the region, we chose Villa L'Arche in Bidart as our place of stay, making this hotel our headquarters for exploring all the wonders of the Basque Coast. From the moment we arrived at Villa L'Arche, we were immediately charmed by its picturesque charm and welcoming atmosphere. Nestled in the heart of a lush garden, this historic residence offers a haven of peace and tranquility, far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.





Our room at Villa L'Arche was a true haven of peace, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and absolute comfort for us to rest after a busy day exploring the treasures of the region. Every morning, we were greeted by the gentle whisper of the sea breeze and the singing of birds, reminding us of the beauty and serenity of our surroundings.



Piscine et terrasse des chambres
Villa L'Arche

The privileged location of Villa L'Arche made it the perfect starting point for our excursions throughout the Basque Coast. Located just a few minutes' drive from Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, San Sebastian, and other picturesque towns in the region, we had easy access to a multitude of activities and sights to discover. Returning to the hotel after a day of adventures, we looked forward to relaxing in the charming garden of the villa or enjoying a refreshing break in the outdoor pool.


The attentive staff at Villa L'Arche added an extra touch to our stay, ensuring that we felt right at home from the moment we arrived. Their warm hospitality and valuable advice on the best places to visit and local restaurants to try helped make our stay even more memorable.


St-Jean-de-Luz
Coastal Path, Bidart

Superb small restaurants, very friendly, can be found in the heart of the village of Bidart, within walking distance via the coastal path, which offers spectacular views of the coast, or simply by the street from the hotel that leads directly to the center of the village.


Moreover, our stay in Bidart was marked by an unforgettable culinary experience at the charming restaurant Ezkia, run by a young, dynamic, and talented couple. From the moment we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by the owners, who created a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.



Ezkia, Bidart
Restaurant Ezkia, Bidart

The menu, showcasing fresh and seasonal local produce, was a true ode to contemporary Basque cuisine. Each dish was a culinary work of art, presented with elegance and refinement. We started by indulging in creative tapas, highlighting the bold flavors of the region, accompanied by a delightful local wine recommended by the owners.





The main course, a Pyrenean milk-fed lamb with new carrots, was a true feast for the senses. The perfect cooking and subtle accompaniments showcased the exceptional quality of the ingredients, creating a symphony of flavors in every bite. Each mouthful was a discovery, transporting us on a gustatory journey through the traditions and influences of Basque cuisine.


To top it all off, we were treated to a divine dessert, combining figs and cherries with innovative pastry techniques. This dessert was an explosion of sweet flavors, balanced with finesse for a perfect finale to our memorable meal.



Restaurant Ezkia
Owners at restaurant Ezkia

Beyond the delicious cuisine, what truly made our experience at the Ezkia restaurant so special was the attention and dedication of the young couple who run the establishment, former employees of the Michelin 3-star restaurant Les Prés d'Eugénie de la Maison Guérard in the Landes, very close to the Basque Country.


The couple offers delicious seasonal dishes prepared with precision, rich in good local Basque products such as farm-reared pork, line-caught tuna, black cherries, and aged farm cheeses.


Whether under the lime trees (ezkia in Basque!) on the terrace, or inside the small, inviting and intimate restaurant room with exposed stonework, floorboards, saffron-colored velvet seats and banquettes, there is a calm and refined atmosphere.


Their passion for cooking and their commitment to offering an exceptional experience to their guests shone through in every detail, making our meal a true celebration of life and Basque gastronomy.


Leaving the Ezkia restaurant, we were filled with deep gratitude for this unforgettable culinary experience. It was much more than just a meal; it was a moment of sharing, discovery, and connection with the culture and passion that animate the Bidart region. We left with our hearts full and our taste buds delighted, ready to return for another gastronomic adventure in the heart of the Basque Coast.



Bidart, France
Village of Bidart

After the meal, we ventured into the heart of the village of Bidart, which enchants with its authentic charm and preserved natural beauty. Nestled between the bustling towns of Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bidart offers a peaceful setting where one can recharge while discovering the true Basque spirit. Its cobbled streets, lined with traditional half-timbered houses, invite leisurely strolls, while its golden sandy beaches offer breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Bidart is also renowned for its world-class surf spots, attracting wave enthusiasts in search of perfect breaks. With its pristine landscapes, relaxed atmosphere, and warm hospitality, Bidart embodies the very essence of Basque life and promises an unforgettable experience to all fortunate enough to discover it.


Moreover, several of our neighbors accessed the beach directly via a staircase carved into the cliff, right from the terrace of our room, to indulge in their favorite sport amidst a magical backdrop.



Surfer, Villa L'Arche, Bidart
Hotel guest on his way to surf


This proximity to the ocean added a unique dimension to our stay, allowing us to fully enjoy the pleasures of the sea while savoring the intimacy and comfort of our accommodation.


Our stay at Villa L'Arche was an unforgettable experience, in a true haven of calm and serenity at the heart of the vibrant Basque Coast. We made this hotel our headquarters to explore all the treasures of the region, and we left with precious memories and a fervent desire to return one day to relive this unique experience.



Saint-Jean-de-Luz: Hidden Gem on the Basque Coast


Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France
Port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz

After our visit to San Sebastian and the countryside during the first two days of our stay in the Basque Country, we continued our escapade to the beautiful town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, nestled on the picturesque French Basque coast. This day was filled with enchanting discoveries, breathtaking landscapes, and an authentic culture that captivated us from the very first moment.


Upon our arrival in this charming town, we were greeted by the warm atmosphere and relaxed ambiance that permeates its cobbled streets. Our steps quickly led us to the picturesque harbor, where colorful boats gently swayed to the rhythm of the tide. The salty scent of the ocean enveloped us, creating a sense of calm and serenity.


Our first stop was the discovery of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church, an architectural marvel dating back to the 17th century. The interior was simply breathtaking, with its rich baroque decorations and magnificent stained glass windows that allowed celestial light to enter. We felt transported back in time, imagining the stories and events that have shaped this sacred place over the centuries.





After exploring the tranquil beauty of the church, we headed towards the golden sandy beach that lines the town. The coastline of Saint-Jean-de-Luz is simply breathtaking, with its imposing cliffs and sparkling crystalline waters under the sun. We strolled along the beach, listening to the gentle murmur of the waves and feeling the sea breeze caress our skin.


Of course, a visit to Saint-Jean-de-Luz would not be complete without tasting its delicious Basque cuisine. We settled into one of the many charming small restaurants in the town to savor regional specialties such as merlu koskera and Basque cake. Every bite was an explosion of authentic flavors, transporting us to the heart of Basque culinary tradition.


Finally, our excursion concluded with a peaceful stroll through the picturesque alleys of the old town, where we admired the half-timbered houses adorned with colorful flowers and the local craft shops brimming with unique treasures. It was as if every corner revealed a new hidden gem, a new facet of the timeless beauty of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.


The visit to Saint-Jean-de-Luz was a visually pleasing experience, a total immersion in the cultural and natural richness of the French Basque coast. We fell in love with this quaint little town at first sight, and we hope to return one day to get lost again in its sunny alleys and enchanting landscapes.



Bayonne: Gateway to the Basque Country


Nive River in Bayonne
Nive River Banks

With our visit to the countryside behind us, it was our escapade to Bayonne, an enchanting city nestled in the heart of the French Basque Country, that delighted us the most during our stay. Our day spent there was a true adventure, filled with cultural discoveries, gastronomic delights, and a vibrant atmosphere that captivated our hearts from the very first moment.


Upon our arrival in this historic city, we were struck by its timeless charm and its unique blend of Basque and French influences. Our steps first led us to the majestic Sainte-Marie Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its imposing facade and intricately carved details left us speechless, while the sumptuous interior transported us to a world of contemplation and serenity.



After exploring the cathedral, we ventured into the cobblestone streets of the old town, where history seems to be etched into every stone. The colorful half-timbered houses and facades adorned with wrought iron give Bayonne a picturesque and authentic atmosphere.


To refuel and soak up the local ambiance, our stop at the friendly café Muxu was a true moment of relaxation and delights. Nestled in a picturesque corner of the historic district, this café with its authentic charm welcomed us with its shaded terrace tables and warm interior.


Upon entering, we were charmed by the friendly and relaxed atmosphere that pervades this place. The walls adorned with local artwork and shelves filled with books invited contemplation and relaxation. The lively atmosphere of the neighborhood was reflected in the joyful buzz of regulars and passing visitors, creating a vibrant and lively ambiance.



We savored our cappuccinos with delight, accompanied by delicious locally sourced treats carefully selected. The freshly prepared pastries were a true feast for the taste buds, showcasing the authentic flavors of the region.


Seated at our table, we took the time to appreciate the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood, observing the passersby going about their business and immersing our senses in the lively atmosphere of Bayonne. It was a moment of pure happiness, where time seemed to stand still, allowing us to fully absorb the essence of this dynamic and welcoming city.


We then strolled along the banks of the Nive, admiring the dancing reflections of boats on the tranquil waters and the picturesque bridges spanning the river.


One of the most memorable experiences of our visit was undoubtedly tasting Bayonne's gastronomic specialties. We dined at La Table de Sebastien Gravé, the eponymous restaurant of Bayonne's Michelin-starred chef and leader in Basque "bistronomy," to savor the local culinary delights, a true feast for the taste buds.



On the menu, we indulged in revisited zucchini flowers, croquette of pig's trotters and foie gras with herb salad, Idiazabal cheese, walnut oil vinaigrette, smoked condiment, and red onions confit in aged vinegar, followed by the Souraïde chicken ballotine, sweet onion compote with bacon, potato gnocchi, Lasarte oyster mushrooms, and supreme sauce. All paired with the sublime 2022 Espilako Xuria white wine from the Espila estate in Ascarat, in the heart of the French Basque Country vineyard of Irouléguy.


This delicious nectar, made from local grape varieties (petit manseng, petit courbu, and gros manseng), offers a pure, invigorating nose with citrus notes as well as more vegetal undertones and a hint of honey. In the mouth, it is lively but not sharp, with a slight aromatic quality, mainly centered around citrus fruits and a very pleasant mineral sensation.


With aeration, the wine gains in roundness with a long, delicately salty and spicy finish.

The rich and subtle flavors of these local specialties, combined with this excellent wine, captivated our senses and gave us a glimpse of the culinary passion that drives this region.



As we further explored the city, we were enchanted by the lively atmosphere of the shopping streets, where local craft shops mingle with elegant fashion boutiques. We were tempted by a variety of local products, ranging from delicious Basque pastries to typical Basque berets.


Each detour was a new opportunity to discover Bayonne's hidden treasures and to be captivated by its authentic charm.


Bayonne, an emblematic city of Basque gastronomy, is full of culinary delights that delight the taste buds of visitors from around the world. Every bite offers an explosion of authentic flavors, highlighting the fresh ingredients and traditional techniques that make Basque cuisine famous.


One of Bayonne's most famous specialties is undoubtedly Jambon de Bayonne, a gastronomic treasure known for its exceptional quality and rich, flavorful taste. This dry-cured and slightly salted ham is made from pigs raised in the region, then aged for several months in the damp cellars of Bayonne, giving it a tender texture and delicate aroma.


So we stopped by the Ham Museum, a true institution dedicated to the delicious local specialty. As we explored its fascinating exhibitions, we delved into the history and craftsmanship behind the making of the famous Jambon de Bayonne.


Next, we continued our journey by visiting Pierre Oteiza's shop, a well-known name in the world of Basque gastronomy. There, we had the opportunity to replenish our stock of Kintoa DOP ham, renowned for its exceptional quality and rich, flavorful taste. Surrounded by the delights of Basque charcuterie, we were transported to a true paradise for food enthusiasts.


To conclude our gourmet day in style, we made a final stop at La Tasse à Moustache, the famous chocolatier Puyodebat's workshop. In this emblematic place, we were greeted by the intoxicating aroma of chocolate and an exquisite selection of artisanal chocolate creations.

Every bite was an explosion of flavors, revealing the talent and passion that animates this master chocolatier.


In addition to ham, Bayonne is also known for its delights made with Espelette pepper, a variety of pepper cultivated in the surrounding hills. This emblematic condiment is used to add a subtle touch of heat to many local dishes, such as Basque chicken and sheep's milk cheese, creating complex and balanced flavors that characterize Basque cuisine.


Seafood lovers will also find plenty to enjoy in Bayonne, where fresh fish abound in the local markets. Specialties such as cod Basquaise, chipirons à l'encre (small squids in ink), and mussels marinière are must-tries for those looking to discover the richness of the region's marine flavors.


Black Cherry Basque Cake
Black Cherry Basque Cake

Finally, no trip to Bayonne would be complete without tasting the famous Basque cake, a traditional pastry that highlights the delicious black cherries from the Adour region. This sweet and melting tart is a real delight for the taste buds, and it is often enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an even more indulgent experience.


In summary, the culinary specialties of Bayonne, and the entire region, are a celebration of the richness of local products and Basque culinary heritage. Each dish tells a story, bearing witness to the love and respect that the region's inhabitants have for their land and culinary tradition. A visit to Bayonne is therefore an invitation to an unforgettable culinary journey, where each meal is a celebration of life and the pleasure of good food.


In summary, our day in Bayonne was an unforgettable experience, a dive into the heart of Basque culture and tradition. Between its rich historical heritage, delicious cuisine, and warm atmosphere, this city has captured our hearts and left us with unforgettable memories.

We sincerely hope to have the opportunity to explore this beautiful city even more on our next adventure in this picturesque region.



Biarritz, Pearl of the Basque Coast


Plage de Biarritz
Plage de Biarritz

We continued our exploration of the region in Biarritz, an iconic coastal town nestled on the stunning French Basque Coast. Our day spent there was a true immersion in an enchanting blend of glamour, culture, and spectacular landscapes that captivated our senses from the moment we arrived.


Our first stop in this iconic seaside town took us to the majestic cliffs of the Côte des Basques, where we were greeted by breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The sight of waves crashing against the rocks and surfers riding the crests mesmerized us, creating an atmosphere of tranquility and pure natural beauty, despite the bustling human activity throughout the city.



Hotel du Palais, Biarritz
Hotel du Palais, Biarritz

As we made our way towards the city center, we were captivated by the timeless elegance of the Hôtel du Palais, a true architectural gem that overlooks the bay of Biarritz. We took the time to stroll through its lush gardens and admire its grandiose architecture, allowing ourselves to be imbued with the history and luxury that permeate every corner of this iconic establishment.


After this immersion in grandeur, we ventured into the bustling streets of the shopping district, where we discovered a multitude of elegant boutiques and contemporary art galleries. I personally succumbed to temptation by acquiring a few unique clothing items, thus adding a touch of Biarritz to my luggage.




Les Halles de Biarritz
Les Halles de Biarritz

Another unforgettable experience from our visit to Biarritz was the discovery of the iconic covered market, Les Halles de Biarritz. This market is brimming with fresh and local products, where colorful stalls overflow with fruits, vegetables, cheeses, charcuterie, and seafood. The lively atmosphere and enticing aroma of regional specialties awakened our senses and allowed us to discover the delights of Basque cuisine in all their splendor. We even stumbled upon a great café, Lobita, which prepares cappuccinos and lattes worthy of the best in Italy, an impressive feat in France...



Les Halles de Biarritz
Les Halles de Biarritz

Our day continued with a romantic stroll along the famous promenade of the Rocher de la Vierge, where we could admire the power of the waves. This magical moment, shared with the cries of seagulls, will remain etched in our memory as a symbol of the timeless beauty of Biarritz.


In summary, our visit to Biarritz was an unforgettable experience, a perfect fusion of seaside

glamour, refined culture, and breathtaking natural beauty. This iconic city of the Basque Coast captured our hearts and offered us an unforgettable day trip.


Local artisans, guardians of the Basque cultural heritage

Throughout the Basque Country, especially in the heart of Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz, charming shops run by local artisans are nestled, passionately perpetuating the ancestral traditions of Basque weaving. These artisans, true guardians of the region's cultural heritage, skillfully transform threads of linen, cotton, and wool into magnificent woven pieces, reflecting the authenticity and craftsmanship of the Basque artisans.


In these warm workshops, one can discover a dazzling array of woven products, ranging from tablecloths with traditional Basque patterns to delicate doilies adorned with detailed embroideries. Each piece tells a unique story, imbued with the soul and culture of the region, and bears witness to the dedication and mastery of the artisans who created them.


Tissus de Luz store in Bayonne
Tissus de Luz store in Bayonne

What makes these products even more special is the fact that they are often handmade, with each thread carefully woven on traditional looms. This artisanal approach imbues each piece with unmatched quality and authenticity, making them treasures that are both aesthetic and functional, perfect for adorning a table during a family meal or adding a touch of charm to any room in the house.


As you browse through these shops, you can feel the love and pride that artisans put into their work, as well as their commitment to preserving the ancestral traditions of Basque weaving. It's a rewarding experience to admire these artisanal masterpieces and to encourage these passionate artisans to continue passing down their craftsmanship to future generations.


In summary, the weaving artisans of the Biarritz region perfectly embody the spirit of the Basque Coast, blending tradition and innovation to create unique and timeless pieces. Their woven products are more than just objects—they are living testimonies to the history and culture of this beautiful region, to be cherished and appreciated for years to come.


Unforgettable Memories

In conclusion, our visit to the Basque Coast, with excursions to Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and Bayonne, was truly enchanting and memorable. Each destination offered us a unique glimpse into the cultural, culinary, and natural richness of this iconic region of France.


Biarritz, with its elegant seaside atmosphere and spectacular waves, captivated us from the moment we arrived. Between walks on the cliffs and culinary specialties at Les Halles market, we discovered a city where luxury and relaxation harmoniously intertwine.


Saint-Jean-de-Luz, with its picturesque streets and fascinating history, transported us to another time. Exploring its cultural heritage, peaceful beaches, and delicious cuisine left us with lasting memories.


Bayonne, the city of Art and History, amazed us with its majestic architecture and lively atmosphere. Between visits to historical monuments and tastings of Basque specialties, we were enchanted by the authentic charm of this dynamic city.


Overall, this exploration of the Basque Country, along with our stay in San Sebastian and the Biarritz region, was a true immersion into the culture and tradition of this unique region. Every moment spent here allowed us to discover a new treasure, whether it was a breathtaking landscape, a delicious dish, or a warm encounter with the locals. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this unforgettable adventure and sincerely hope to return one day to discover even more hidden wonders of the Basque coast.



Unforgettable Experiences Await You.



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