Biarritz and the Basque Country: what to do, what to see...

This region of Southwestern France has everything it takes to get your heart racing, from legendary beaches that draw surfers from around the world to picturesque mountain villages. This subtle blend of contemporary style and authentic Basque tradition promises an amazing experience.—there's nothing like it! Welcome to the Basque Country.

Not to miss sights in Biarritz and the Basque Country

• The Biarritz coast in Hendaye

Meeting the waves of the Atlantic, on 35 kilometers (22 miles), the Basque coast is mostly a succession of small fishing ports, wild cliffs, beautiful half-timbered houses. The coastal path offers grandiose panoramas between the ocean and the Pyrenees.

• The city of Biarritz and its mythical beach

In the city center, the Grande Plage extends from the foot of the emblematic Palace Le Palais, all along the cliffsides, to the Côte des Basques for surfers and bathers.

• The medieval city of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Capital of Lower Navarre, on the road to Santiago de Compostela this city of medieval streets and pink sandstone is reflected in the Nive.

• Aldudes Valley

In the heart of the Basque country, in the hollow of the mountains of Basse Navare, this authentic valley is populated only by a thousand inhabitants. All the residents live in three villages, connected by winding roads.

• Hendaye beach

The longest sandy beach of the Basque coast stretches almost 3 kilometers (2 miles), bordered by a rather calm ocean at this place. Enjoy with the kids!

• The village of Espelette

In the province of Labourd, this typical village is a must-see for gourmands: here is origin of the famous pepper, which delicately perfumes Basque cuisine.

• The Petit Bayonne

This typical old quarter is home to tall Renaissance houses in a maze of alleys and along its quaysides—it's a living, breathing museum. The tranquil atmopshere turns electric during the famous Bayonne Festival.

• Guéthary

This former 17th century fishing port has been transformed into a lovely marina, surrounded by small coves and natural beaches for swimmers.

• Saint Jean de Luz

A town of regal history—Louis XIV married Marie-Thèrèse there in 1660. Today, small port is full of charm, with its well-kept old houses, beaches, port, and its trinquets for pelota (the field of play for a Basque game).

• Cambo-les-Bains and its baths

The village is famous for its Art Deco thermal spa, housed in a grand old park. You must also visit the large Villa Arnaga, built by Edmond Rostand at the beginning of the last century, and its "Versailles"-styled gardens.

Things to do in Biarritz and the Pays Basque

• Tee off on one of the many golf courses

The most stressful part is choosing among the 16 courses less than an hour's drive from Biarritz: Arcangues, Biarritz le Phare, Chiberta, Hossegor, Seignosse—they are under pristine care, and they are among the most beautiful links in France, sprawled between the Atlantic and Pyrenees.

• Take the cogwheel train to the top of the Rhune

This is a beautiful experience to enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean at 905 meters (2,700 feet) above sea level.

• Venture into the Iraty Forest

Wander under the boughs of the largest beech forest in Europe—in summer, don't miss the hike to the peak of Orhy. In autumn, it's Shangri-la for birdwatchers to observe migratory flocks.

• Tame the waves on the main surf spots of Biarritz and the Basque Country

Surf culture is omnipresent in the Basque Country. Starting with the mythical beach La Côte des Basques in Biarritz, but also other spots in Anglet, Bidart, Guéthary or St Jean de Luz, the Basque coast is a haven for the surf-obsessed.

• Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a game of Basque pelota

Basque pelota is a subtle pastime, played differently depending on the place, the instrument and the type of ball. Whether the wall is 36 meters (108 feet) or 54 m (162 feet) high, with a paleta ball of leather or hollow rubber, it's an authentic Basque game!

• Do more than just build sandcastles on the most beautiful beaches of Biarritz and the Basque Country.

No less than five thalassotherapy centers await for you to enjoy the benefits of the ocean, in Anglet, Biarritz, St Jean de Luz and Hendaye. With views of the beach and the sea, there's no better place to relax.

• Play Empress Eugénie at the Hôtel du Palais

The Spanish Empress, wife of Napoleon III, loved Biarritz. In 1855, she built the Villa Eugenie overlooking the beach, which would become the Hôtel du Palais. Even today, the grand palace likes to bask in the prestige of tradition.

• Admire the view aboard the funicular of Pau

Commissioned in 1908, it continues to connect the Pau train station to the top of the city, on a slope of 30%. Both antique and spectacular, it's got one of the best views of the Pyrenees in clear weather.

• Toasting at life at the fishermen's port in Biarritz

In the heart of the old town, below the church of St. Eugenie, this port has kept its authenticity: teeming with a small beach, scores of boats, al fresco restaurants and fishermen.

• Book a Basque dance class

To participate in the Basque country's traditional festivals, these courses are essential. You will learn everything about jumps, dances en ronde and farandoles all set to the the sound of flute and tambourine. Do you hear the music?

Getting to Biarritz