Sandwiched between the Pyrenees Mountain range and the rugged Atlantic coastline is the delightful Basque seaside town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Colourful fishing boats bob in the harbour for the artists to paint whilst the streets around are filled with bars and seafood restaurants serving the days catch. Make sure you get to Place Louis XIV early evening to secure your outside table to enjoy the tasty food, warm climate and charming ambience. You might even be lucky enough to enjoy live music and entertainment from the centrally located bandstand during one of the many summer festivals, rich in traditional Basque heritage.
Between the sea and the mountains
The rugged Atlantic coast
La Rhune Sacred Basque mountain
Louis XIV house
La Maison de l’Infante
Guethary Art museum
Ecomusee Basque museum
Beachfront health spa
The Grand Plage in central Saint-Jean-de-Luz sits in a naturally sheltered inlet and faces the picturesque fishing village of Ciboure that shares the bay. It is the ideal beach for family fun with many games and activities laid on for children as well as calm waters unusual for the Atlantic, perfect for the little one’s first intrepid steps into the ocean. Stronger swimmers can swim out to one of the three bathing platforms moored in the bay, complete with low and high diving boards and space to rest, admire the best views of the seafront or simply get your breath back before the return leg. Surfers are not disappointed as Saint-Jean-de-Luz boasts a further four beaches in the vicinity that enjoy the Atlantic swell.
Other activities include all manner of water sports – sea fishing, sailing, jet skiing, windsurfing, sea kayaking and parascending whilst just inland the mountainous terrain lends itself perfectly for walking, horse riding, mountain biking or quad biking. Be sure to walk up the nearby sacred Basque Country mountain of La Rhune. Standing at 905 metres elevation it takes in the peaks of the Pyrenees and follows the Basque coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean from San Sebastián to Biarritz and beyond. For a more leisurely ascent there is always the delightfully preserved railway that has been taking tourists to the top since 1924.
Enjoy the highly rated golf courses or relax and revitalise at the beachfront Thalassotherapy centre – the elegant modern health spa makes good use of the natural salt water cures and enjoys direct access straight onto the Grand Plage.
Moving north towards Biarritz you soon come across Bidart and Guethary. These 2 coastal villages enjoy superb beaches, excellent surf and a traditional Basque flavour ever present in the buildings and the customary Pelota court.
With the airport at Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne just 12km away access to the area is easy. Direct flights leave London (daily), Dublin and Shannon airports. The super fast TGV train service runs direct from Paris making the journey in just 5 hours.