Golden shores stretching to dramatic mountains
Maintaining a fiercely unique identity, the Pays Basque lies in the south of Aquitaine and is perhaps best known for its lively surfing culture and its contrasting scenery. Atlantic waves lap the golden shores of its coastline, which rises to greet the foothills of the Pyrenees in the east of the region via traditional Basque villages such as Espeletter and Itxassou.
For dramatic vistas, the Pyrenees National Park has little competition and rewards those who leave the car behind to explore on foot or by bicycle. Mountains soar to the sky, waterfalls tumble over rocky cliffs and vast lakes spread out like inky mirrors pressed into the landscape. On the opposite side of the region is the energetic city of Biarritz, once the darling of royalty and celebrities alike. Now a Mecca for the surfing elite, its infectious ocean culture, endless sunshine and relaxed glamour has earned it a reputation as one of the most fashionable resorts in France.
Walking or cycling around the Pays Basque is an ideal opportunity to experience its individuality, to hear its language, Euskera, being spoken and perhaps even to catch a glimpse of the national game, pelota, being played.