WHAT TO EXPECT
Depart in the morning from San Sebastian towards Hendaye, a village situated on the French border. From here we will continue along one of the most beautiful coastal roads of Basque Country to Saint Jean de Luz before heading inland towards the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Next up, we will discover the medieval streets of fortified town of Saint Jean Pied de Port. It is the starting point of the most traditional pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela called Saint James Way or Camino de Santiago. Our historic walk wouldn’t be complete without seeing the stunning romanesque cathedral and crossing a romantic stone bridge over the river Nive to finally reach the town’s citadele built in 1628.
From Saint Jean Pied de Port we will continue along the Pyrenees to the true heart of unspoiled French Basque countryside and the village of Saint Etienne de Baigorri, home to the tannat grapes and vineyards located on extremely steep slopes with inclines of up to 60°! Here, you will enjoy a glass of this peculiar, local wine while your guide will reveal the secrets of Irulegi AOC – one of the tiniest wine region in France.
We will leave the vineyards behind and take a narrow, back road to follow the meanders of river Nive that will take us all the way to our next stop. Built on the top of the hill village of Bidarray with its pink sandstone romanesque church.
Then, we will continue our journey to quaint village with cobblestone streets and houses decorated with garlands of red peppers. That’s right! We have just arrived to Espelette! This blindingly colorful town has gained fame for these small chilies that were brought from South America in 16th century and has gradually replaced black pepper in the Basque cuisine. Armed with the knowledge about Piment d’Espelette we will get to try some of the local specialities and the pepper itself!
Afterwards, we’ll sit down in the most authentic, local restaurant located in a 17th century building. We will try delicious, traditional recipes of French Basque cuisine kept in the family for 5 generations!
Last but not least, we will drive to Ainhoa – considered one of the most stunning villages in France! We will wander down the streets soaking in the relax atmosphere of a Basque mountain village to finally reach The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and enjoy a moment of reflexion while listening to gregorian chants. Ainhoa is also a perfect place to discover the meaning of Basque Indiano House and observe some great examples of it.
At the end of the day, you’ll be chauffeured back to San Sebastian crossing the border with Spain as the smugglers did back in the day. You will enjoy the Navarran landscape, having experienced the quintessence of French Basque Countryside!
‘In all our travels, we have rarely encountered a guide this knowledgeable who can plan and execute a multi-day tour so flawlessly. We could not have seen 1/10 of what we did without Ernes’ guidance and knowledge of the region. From hiking the Camino de Santiago, to a pintxos tour in San Sebastian, to a visit to the Les Halles Market in Biarritz, and to multiple stops in a variety of other villages and towns, we had a superb and immersive experience in French and Spanish basque history and culture.’