The Basque Country

Walks around Biarritz

Biarritz from the little train

Both children and adults will have the sensation of travelling in a replica railway train from the 1850’s when they embark on this journey that sets off from the Main Beach, the Grande Plage in front of Biarritz Casino.

Don’t miss the guided visit lasting around 30 minutes that will tell you everything about Biarritz: “the Queen of beaches and beaches for Kings”…
Today, the many Chateaux and beautiful Villas bear witness to the prestigious history of the town of Biarritz.

The journey will quickly take you to the picturesque fishing port, Port des pêcheurs, followed by the Rock of the Virgin Mary, Rocher de la Vierge and the Musée de la Mer Aquarium. The journey then continues along the coast to La Côte des Basques beach where you will enjoy the magnificent view it offers over the Pyrenees. As you go further below, you will be able to spot the Villa Belza, built in 1880, that seems to be gripping to a rock as it faces the Ocean between the Côte des Basques and the Old Port, Port Vieux.

The journey continues to the Public Gardens and through the Town Centre before the little train slows down to finally stop in front of the Grande Plage, just two steps away from the majestic Hotel du Palais.

Biarritz History Museum


Since 1986, the Association of the friends of Biarritz History Museum has gathered a rich collection of diverse documents (objects, photos, pictures, paintings, video projections…) in an original place, the old Anglican Church of Biarritz.

They tell the story of Biarritz, from the original small fishing port to the cosmopolitan seaside resort otherwise known as the “Beach of Kings”: an essential visit in order to become acquainted with the culture of Biarritz!

From the simple fishing village to the splendour of the Imperial Palaces, come and discover the epic past of Biarritz over the course of History, and the lives of the people who made the town so famous!

Biarritz and the sea, Biarritz and the Empire, Biarritz and the world and Biarritz in the 20th Century are the four themes that this museum addresses.

Planet Chocolate Museum

The Basque Country and the history of Chocolate are very intimately connected. A visit to the “Planet Chocolate Museum” of Biarritz is an absolute must to understand what brings them both so close together.

The visit begins with a tasting session of chocolate buttons. Then a film is shown that takes you on a journey through the history and legacy of chocolate and explains how cocoa beans are transformed to chocolate bars.

At the end of the visit you will enjoy a delicious hot chocolate drink prepared according to a traditional recipe. In addition to the art exhibition and collection of ancient objects, this museum illustrates the chocolate adventure, from the times of the Mayas to today. Gourmet food lovers take note! The museum also offers creative workshops for children and adults as well as pastry-making courses. 

The City of the Ocean

In June 2011, the town of Biarritz launched a new concept: Biarritz Océan, involving the extension of the Musée de la Mer Aquarium and the opening of the City of the Ocean.

Overlooking Ilbarritz beach, the City of the Ocean is a museum space that mirrors the shape of the waves of the “Côte des Basques”. It was created by the New York architect Steven Holl.

The City of the Ocean aims to share oceanic realities and issues, raise public awareness of the Ocean’s fragility and importance and of its ecosystem as well as position Biarritz in this combat for the future.

This entertaining and scientific space will delight both children and adults and features twelve different universes based on historical and scientific facts that give visitors an in-depth understanding of our world’s various oceans and seas: the ocean as a place of life, the physical and chemical properties of water, how certain species adapt to their environment, using resources and various types of energy to promote sustainable development… Special effects, 3D animations and interactive experiences transform this visit into an unforgettable journey into the Ocean’s depths…

The Imperial Chapel

This charming chapel was built at the request of Eugenie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III, on the Imperial domain of Villa Eugenie, which was later to become the Hotel du Palais. Created in 1864 by Boeswillwald, a student of Viollet-le-Duc, the chapel is a harmonious blend of Roman-Byzantine and Hispano-Moresque styles and is dedicated to the Black Mexican Virgin: Notre-Dame-de-Guadalupe.

The chapel used to have an impressive view over the ocean and when people came to Biarritz along the Bayonne Road they could see the Chapel towering over the cliff by the sea.

Still today, the chapel’s plain exterior façade is in striking contrast with its interior that is rich in decorative elements: Azulejos from Sèvres, Denuelle mosaics… The chapel has been listed as a National Heritage Site of France since 1981.

A visit here will take you back in time to Biarritz and the Hotel du Palais at the time of the Second Empire.

The Lighthouse


Built in 1834 by the architect Mr Viennois, the Lighthouse of Biarritz stands 73 metres above sea level on top of the Saint-Martin headland overlooking Cape Hainsart, which owes its name to the oak trees that used to surround it and which have now been replaced by Tamarix, or salt cedars.

This Cape marks the boundary between the sandy coast of the Landes and the rocky shores of the Basque Country. After climbing its 248 steps you will be able to admire the stunning panoramic view of Biarritz and its surroundings!

The Lighthouse has been listed as a National Heritage Site of France since November 2009.

The Lighthouse of Biarritz is open to the public every day:

From July 1st to August 31st, from 10am to 12.30pm and 2.30pm to 7pm.

From September 1st to September 31st, from 2pm to 6pm.

From October 1st to December 31st, from 2pm to 5pm.

The Musée de la Mer Aquarium

In this superb Art Deco monument, visitors enjoy a beautiful living display of around fifty aquariums and thousands of species. So what are its highlights?

You will be in raptures when you see the lovely underwater view of the Seal Pool or when you come nose-to-nose with the sharks in the Shark Grotto! The museum specialises in the fauna and flora of the Bay of Biscay and exhibits over 150 fish species and invertebrates.

Since June 2011, the Musée de la Mer Aquarium has doubled its exhibition space and now takes you along the Gulf Stream, from the Bay of Biscay all the way to the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Not to mention the Caribbean Lagoon, tropical exhibition and large pools along with the giant aquarium where Sharks, Rays, Groupers, Barracudas and other deep-sea schools of fish are going about their business! You will also be able to experience new sensations with the tactile pool that delight the most curious visitors. Don’t miss the fun of seeing the seals being fed every day at 10.30am and 5pm.

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The Basque Coast

Abbadia Castle

A place that goes beyond your imagination! Located in Hendaye, only 30 minutes away from Biarritz.

Constructed facing the Ocean, the Abbadia Observatory Castle was built between 1860 and 1870 by Eugène Viollet le Duc, who restored Notre Dame de Paris, for the renowned Ethnologist, Geographer and Man of Science, Antoine d’Abbadie… The edifice is inspired by the architecture of medieval fortified castles.

Combining a Neo-Gothic style with Orientalism, its luxurious decoration puts this site at the top of the list of places to visit. The three wings, each with their own particular function, meet at the central axis of the edifice. 

This layout provides the Castle with a maximum amount of sunlight and the architecture opens out towards the natural surroundings as well as providing a functional distribution of space between the living areas and the domestic quarters.

The great hall, library, reception room, guest rooms and the chapel are open to the public. A visit will take you on a journey through History, punctuated by the discovery of many pieces in Antoine d’Abbadie’s collections. 

Fontarrabia

Fontarrabia, one of the Basque Country’s rare fortified towns, has a vast cultural and artistic life inherited from the town’s rich history that attracts many visitors. 

A 5km car drive is all it takes to get to Fontarrabia from France. This old town in the Guipuzcoa province is situated in Northern Spain on the other side of the Bidassoa estuary, facing the town of Hendaye. A boat trip will take you from the port of Hendaye across the bay to Fontarrabia in just 10 minutes; this shuttle service runs every 30 minutes.

Once you have disembarked, you will be able to enjoy the Marine quarter and its stone-paved streets, flowered terraces and the typical fishermen’s homes: quaint cottages with whitewashed walls painted with vivid colours.

From there, take a picturesque stroll in the Old Town of Fontarrabia that has conserved its impressive ramparts and two ancient gateways into the fortified town centre. As you walk along the narrow and sloping streets you will discover many curiosities and fascinating typical architecture.

Don’t hesitate to walk up to the top of the town! Your efforts will be well rewarded when the magnificent panoramic view over Txingudi bay opens up in front of you. From here you will also be able to see the Castle of Charles Quint, a fortress situated on the Arms Square near the Church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion, a Gothic church built in the 15th Century that has a Baroque tower dating back to the 13th Century.

When the sun goes down over the yardarm and it’s time for an aperitif, the town’s many bars are excellent places to enjoy a selection of Rioja wines and Tapas…

Guethary,The Basque Coast’s hidden treasure

Smaller than Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Guethary nevertheless deserves much more than a passing glance. Here, between Biarritz and Bidart, you will discover a charming Basque village that resolutely contemplates the ocean.

This former whaling port has superb spots for surfers and paddle surfers and those who enjoy wandering along unspoilt, sandy and pebble beaches will also find their heart’s delight.

Nature is very present in Guethary and there are many footpaths, in particular the Basque Coastal Footpath (“Sentier du Littoral de la Côte Basque”) that passes by Cenitz Hill, a 1.2-hectare nature reserve. 

The village has conserved its authentic Basque architecture: frontons, houses, shops… the quaint fishing port is one of the village’s biggest assets.

Moreover, the village possesses rich heritage in the Church of Saint Nicolas, built in the 16th Century, the Semaphore tower that was used as a whale look-out post and the terrace that offers a stunning view of the ocean.

Throughout your holiday, life is set to the pace of the local festivities, folklore and typical events: pelote, Basque strongman sports, dancing, songs…

A Modern and Contemporary Art museum will give your excursion an interesting touch and dose of culture.

The Coast Road “La Corniche”

Overlooking the Ocean, between the towns of Ciboure, Urrugne and Hendaye and only 25 minutes away from Biarritz, the protected cliff area known as the Corniche is a splendid environmental treasure that offers unique panoramic views over the Ocean and Mountains including La Rhune, the Spanish coast, Fontarrabia and the entire Basque coastline up to the Landes department.

This 65-hectare area is part of the municipality of Hendaye. Its inspiring and diverse landscapes, atmospheres and environments are persuasive enough to make anyone slow down and enjoy the surroundings. The cliffs change colour from grey to blue and pink, depending on the position of the sun.

As you walk along these coastal heights that are unique in this world, you will be able to discover its precious features: wild creeks, fauna and flora as well as Europe’s celebrated wave, the famous Belharra, reaching 8 to 12 metres in height, and which only professional surfers are capable of riding.

Take the opportunity to stop at the Abbadia Observatory Castle, a Neo-Gothic masterpiece that was created by the architect Viollet-le-Duc.

La Rhune

Just 10 kilometres away from Saint Jean de Luz, come and discover La Rhune, a 905-metre summit situated in the Pyrenees. This mountain peak dominates the French and Spanish coasts, offering a 360° panoramic view of the Basque Country and a breathtaking perspective of the mountains and ocean in the horizon.

Departure takes place at the Col of Saint-Ignace, a stone’s throw from the beautiful village of Sare.

There are two ways of getting to the top of this mountain:

On foot over La Rhune’s different landscapes: starting with rocky and arid slopes, followed by a green and woody plateau before ending in the clouds with the ultimate climb amid rocky landscapes and lush greenery. Walking to the summit provides an ideal opportunity to meet the Basque Country’s unique wildlife, such as the small horses called Pottoks, Manech Sheep, a local bred of cattle called Betisoak, undomesticated cows and griffon vultures. The hike takes about 2hrs30 on the way up and 2hrs on the way down.

Alternatively, you can also choose to take the authentic cog, or rack, railway train that dates back to 1924. It will take you right up to the summit in 35 minutes at 9 km/hr. Along the ride you will be able to admire the wild landscapes, especially when you pass the place known as the breach that offers a bird’s eye view from the summit.

Many traditional Basque Country mountain restaurants await you at the top!

Saint-Jean-de-Luz

Saint-Jean-de-Luz is located 20 minutes away from Biarritz. This authentic town has an exceptionally rich heritage. The wedding of King Louis XIV with the Spanish Infanta Marie-Thérèse of Austria at the Church Saint Jean Baptiste in 1660 is one of the major events in the history of this town.
Intrinsically related to the sea, Saint-Jean-de-Luz used to be the maritime hub for whale hunting, as well as hake, tuna, sardine and anchovy fishing.
Over the centuries, Saint-Jean-de-Luz became a famous seaside resort with well-kept traditions.

Not only does this town feature an extraordinary legacy with the Maison de l’Infante, the House of King Louis XIV and the Jean Vier Basque living museum, it also offers a wide array of activities: golf, surfing, walks, water activities, Basque pelote, boat trips and sea fishing…

There is a multitude of gourmet specialities to whet your appetite:
Ttoro, marmitako, chipirons, gateau Basque, macaroons, mouchous…

The heart of the town, partly pedestrian, is ideal for quiet, relaxing strolls. Most shops are open on Sundays all year round. Moreover, at 11am every Sunday during the summer, music is played in the Louis XIV town square and walkers can sit down on the terraces and enjoy the songs and dances that are being performed.

Take the time to listen to a concert in the Church Saint-Jean-Baptiste to discover Basque Choirs composed of around fifty singers who perform songs arranged for four male voices as well as typical popular songs.

The Best Photo Locations

From Biarritz Lighthouse:

  • –    View of Anglet beaches, the entrance of Bayonne Port and the long beaches of the Landes department.
  • –    View of the Hotel du Palais, the town of Biarritz with La Rhune Mountain in the background.
  • –    View of the whole seacoast, the Rock of the Virgin Mary and the Pyrenees, as well as of the Jaizkibel, Fontarrabia and the Spanish coast. 

From the Basta Rock:

  • –    View of the main beach in Biarritz, La Grande Plage, the Hotel and the Lighthouse.
  • –    View of the fishing port.

From the Rock of the Virgin Mary:

  • –    View of the main beach of Biarritz, La Grande Plage and towards Anglet, as well as the beaches of the Landes department. 
  • –    View of the Villa Belza, the iconic villa of Biarritz and the “Devil’s Hole”.

From the Old Port Beach:

  • –    View of the Rock of the Virgin Mary and Gustav Eiffel’s footbridge.
  • –    View of the Villa Goeland, one of the oldest and most beautiful residences in Biarritz.

At the foot of the Villa Belza:

  • –    View of the “Basque Coast” and Milady beaches with the Baron de l’Espée’s castle and La Rhune in the background. 
  • –    View of the villages of Bidart and Guetary, the entrance of the Bay in Saint-Jean-de-Luz as well as the Spanish coast. 

The view from the “Basque Coast” beach:

  • –    Panoramic view of the Pyrenean foothills and Spain.

Basque Culture

Don Quichosse Espadrilles

Here is an Arts and Crafts company that has built itself on age-old techniques in a country where the art of espadrille-making runs in the blood of so many generations whose lives have been intricately woven into this humble and passionate universe.

Made according to the purest traditional methods of the craft, the wide range of espadrilles has come to the shop directly from the company’s manufacturing unit, and includes models that our ancestors used to wear (and are still worn today in the Basque Country), and the most contemporary and modern forms of espadrilles. 

The Don Quichosse Company is located in Mauleon and has been awarded the “Living Heritage Company” label, just like the Hotel du Palais.
This label rewards arts and crafts companies and high-performing industrial companies that have participated in France’s economic and cultural influence. 
The label is a reference for consumers, clients and purchasing advisors: the guarantee of exceptional and rare know-how combined with a brand that blends tradition with modernity, providing the most specialised and advanced solutions.

Come and discover more about this know-how and, after the private tour of the temple of espadrilles, leave with your very own, made-to-measure pair.

Basque Arts and Crafts


The Goicoechea family has been designing and making terracotta pottery for three generations in the heart of the Basque Country, in Osses, between Biarritz and Saint Jean Pied de Port. Their story began in the hands of the craftsman Jean-Baptiste Goicoechea in 1960. Goicoechea Pottery is now run by his son Michel and his wife, Terexa with the help of their children. Proud of their history, roots and know-how, the whole family has joined forces around this extraordinary heritage.

Generation after generation, the gestures have remained the same. The creations, on the other hand, have interpreted different trends over time and can now be seen in both garden and indoor settings. This family business is present all over the country as well as abroad. Although the family-run company will forever be located in the heart of its home country, the village of Osses, it has chosen the prestigious towns of Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz to showcase its creations. You will have the opportunity of a private tour of the company’s premises that are otherwise closed to the public. You will also find various examples of Goicoechea potteries on different floors in the Hotel du Palais.

The Makhila, or Makila, is a traditional Basque walking stick that was given to teenagers to mark their passage into adulthood. The Makhila is a personal and practical object and its length must be adapted to its owner’s height. It can also be given as a token of honour.

Entirely hand-made, the craftsman starts working on the branch of a Medlar tree while it is still growing and the design is carved into the wood when the sap rises. The stick must then be dried for a long period of time and the colour is given using an exclusive and secret method to stain the wood.

The stick is equipped with two weapons:

  • On the top, opening the handle will reveal a spike made of forged and threaded steel.
  • On the bottom, a small but efficient club that also serves to balance the makhila for walking.

Bayonne

Bayonne is a great town to visit all year round. Its oceanic climate makes for an enjoyable experience at every season. Each time of the year has its own charm and particular features whether you are a food-lover, passionate about sport, a history enthusiast or simply looking for new experiences.

Bayonne has been classified as a “Town of Art and History” since 2011. From the Gothic cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the Basque Museum, passing by the cloister, fortifications, Gothic cellars, the Old Castle, “Château Vieux”, the protected area or the learning about the history of chocolate, Bayonne offers a wealth of cultural and gourmet experiences. Bayonne owes its important architectural legacy to its rich history. Indeed, this town’s destiny is intimately connected to its port, to the confluence of the Adour and Nive rivers and to its proximity to Spain.

  • Come and discover Basque culture in an especially dedicated museum! Established since 1924 in the House of Dagourette, a bourgeois residence built towards the end of the 16th Century, the Basque and History of Bayonne Museum houses an important ethnographic collection that takes you on an explorative journey through the Basque Country.
  • Discover the Old Bayonne quarter with its ancient canals, cellars, typical houses, fortifications, the Sainte Marie Cathedral, the cloister, the Château Vieux… This visit will evoke the history of Bayonne from its origins to present times. 

Bayonne is a hub of gourmet experiences, not only does it have historical ties with chocolate, it is also famous for its cured ham. In the old part of Bayonne you can enjoy a wide array of traditional gourmet experiences with Basque, French and Spanish flavours in the many restaurants and bodegas.

Cesta Punta

Ball games figure amongst the oldest known sports and were played by the Ancient Greeks, Romans, the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans. In France it was not until the 16th century that the first official ball game appeared: Jeu de Paume. Cesta Punta is directly descended from this sport and became an intrinsic part of the country’s history towards the middle of the 18th Century.

This speciality is played on a pelote court and the area of play is called the cancha. At the end of the court, the front wall is commonly called the fronton and the game uses other walls referred to as place libre, trinquet and mur à gauche.
This sport is billed as “the world’s fastest game”, and no wonder as the ball travels between 200 and 300 km per hour!

There are many variations of the game, among them the speciality chistera (the name of the basket glove), a game played in the two-walled court, mur à gauche, using a faster and more reactive pelote ball. It is the most popular pelote sport in the world as it is the most spectacular, fast and lucrative (with many professional openings, in particular in the USA thanks to the Fronton Casinos). Cesta Punta is played at the World Amateur Championship. It opposes two teams comprising two players, one playing at the front and another at the back.

The rules of the game are quite simple. The ball must be thrown against the wall, caught in the chistera glove and projected back against the wall.

Our concierges will be delighted to book your pelote lessons and seats for the French Cesta Punta Pro Open championship and other Trophies…

Basque Athletic Games

Basque athletic games, somewhat similar to the Highland games originated from carrying out day-to-day tasks that required a great deal of effort. For centuries, young Basque men would lay down challenges to prove their worthiness between one farm and another. This is how the strongest of men came to measure their strength, proud to honour their village and their family’s name.
These challenges developed into different types of tests:

  • Sawyers and lumberjacks figure amongst the most popular participants. They must saw or chop up the most amount of wood that is possible in a certain time.
  • The lumberjack climbing competition involves climbing a 10.5 metre poplar tree holding an axe.
  • Square and atlas stone lifting is a truly spectacular event.
  • Anvil lifting consists in lifting an 18kg-anvil as many times as possible.
  • Straw bale lifting involves hoisting a 45kg-straw bale, 9 metres high as many times as possible.
  • There is also the cart raising competition that involves moving 4m50-long cart weighing 200kg on the forearms…
  • Individual or relay races carrying bags of corn that weigh 81kg on the shoulders, over a 120-metre distance.
  • The highlight and most spectacular competition is the tug-of-war pitched between two rival villages.

Nowadays, and especially during the summer, some Basque villages organize Basque Strongman Competitions to the delight of both tourists and inhabitants. The festival in Saint-Palais is the most famous of these strongman games.

Our concierges will be happy to provide you with further information.

Rugby

Rugby appeared in the Basque Country towards the end of the 19th Century, when a player from the Landes department came to school in Bayonne in 1897 and converted his comrades to the passion for rugby-football, which he himself had discovered in Bordeaux. By playing in the grounds of the Porte d’Espagne in Bayonne they passed on their enthusiasm to other schools in Bayonne and Biarritz. This led to the creation of the Biarritz Sporting Club and the “Amicale des Anciens de Jules Ferry” (founded in 1898).

After Pelote, Rugby is the King of sports in the Basque Country and an intrinsic part of a culture that is eagerly transmitted from father to son and often acquired on the field.
Rugby matches are true moments of euphoria the celebration of which generally lasts the whole day.

Two teams are centre stage of the rugby scene in the Basque Country. Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque (Biarritz Club) and the Aviron Bayonnais (Bayonne Club) represent the Basque Country in National Championships.

Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque is a French rugby union club based in Biarritz (the stadium Parc des Sports d’Aguiléra). Five times Champion of France (1935, 1939, 2002, 2005, 2006), the Club is currently participating in the French Top 14 Championship and the European Challenge Rugby Cup.


Book your tickets with our Concierges.

Flavours of the Basque Country

AOC Espelette Pimento Pepper Production

The Espelette Pepper Guild can be found in the charming and typical village of Espelette, a place that has remained, over time, authentic and true to its roots with its beautiful houses, recently restored castle, church, and ancient washhouses…

A fabulous encounter with the Espelette Pepper: fine, powerful and generous, one could say that this variety comes from the sea, as Basque sailors brought it home from their trips to the Americas during the 16th Century. This exotic spice was often used to replace black pepper that was too expensive at the time. Rich in flavour, it is now a star ingredient in the global culinary scene.

Get a taste of this passion by sharing a moment with a Basque family of pimento pepper growers. Visit the pepper fields and discover all stages of the production process during a discovery tour.
Watch how the family works behind the house facades that are decorated with peppers and learn how to skilfully tie together the dazzling fruits before tasting a fine slice of farm cheese with the typical pepper jelly: a delight for the taste buds. You will also have the opportunity of discovering all the specialities and recipes that are created using Espelette pimento pepper.
 
Children are not forgotten. Here, families will be able to play and run around in the labyrinth looking for the game’s solution with a questionnaire that is guaranteed to arouse their curiosity.

Chocolate

In 1609, escaping the Inquisition, Portuguese Jews passed the border and fled to Bayonne. They settled down in the Saint Esprit neighbourhood, on the right bank of the Adour River, just outside the fortifications that prevented them from entering the town.
It is strongly believed that they were the ones who established the first facilities that transformed cocoa beans into chocolate powder around 1615. Although Chocolate was then a precious and rare product, it won over the aristocracy when it was officially introduced to the court of Louis XIII by Anne of Austria, daughter of the King of Spain. 

Chocolate experiences:

Planet Chocolate Museum in Biarritz: The visit begins with a tasting session of chocolate buttons. Then a 14-min film is shown that takes you on a journey through the history and legacy of chocolate and explains how cocoa beans are transformed to chocolate bars. At the end of the visit you will enjoy a delicious hot chocolate drink prepared according to a traditional recipe. In addition to the art exhibition, this museum illustrates the chocolate adventure, from the times of the Mayas to today.

L’Atelier du Chocolat (Chocolate workshop) in Bayonne: Discover how cacao trees grow in their exotic environment as well as Bayonne’s history of chocolate. Visit the comprehensive collection of machines that were used to make chocolate at the beginning of the 20th century. Not only will you journey through tropical forests where cacao is grown, you will learn about the history of cacao, from its discovery by the Mayas in Mexico to its arrival in Bayonne.

Cazenave in Bayonne: Here you will be able to taste the famous frothy hot chocolate in a lovely tea room, decorated with 19th Century mirrors and stained glass ornaments, and enjoy the friendly and warm service.

Henriet Biarritz: Only two steps away from the Hotel, since 1946 the Henriet House has been combining handmade production with high-quality natural ingredients to create its irresistible pastries and fine chocolates. The Rochers de Biarritz (Biarritz Rocks) are an absolute must: tastes of slivers of toasted almonds and pieces of crystallized orange blended together under mouth-watering black or milk chocolate.

Gâteau Basque


The Gateau Basque is probably the Basque Country’s most famous dessert. Everybody loves it, whether it is filled with cherry jam or custard cream, children and adults are crazy about this pastry that has, over the centuries, preserved the recipe’s secrets.

The Gateau Basque museum in Sare retraces the history of this mythical dessert and presents the different stages of production and tasting of the pastry over time. Thanks to a remarkable private collection including over 200 objects, the public will discover utensils and objects that are as unusual as they are fascinating.

The boutique and workshops for both children and adults provide the opportunity of taking home a little history and know-how.

This trip is also the ideal opportunity to discover the beautiful village of Sare and the Basque countryside.

Foie Gras, Irouleguy Wines, Sheep’s Milk Cheese 

The Basque Country reserves many surprises to those who venture off the beaten tracks. The gourmet getaway we have designed will give you the opportunity to enjoy local produce amid the most magnificent landscapes, between Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and the Valley of the Aldudes.

The trip begins in Osses, on the road that leads to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The Arnabar House, specialised in foie gras, raises its ducks in the open air and offers a panoramic view over the Basque mountains. The producer will share his experience with you and invite you to taste handmade foie gras and rillettes.

The next stop is Saint-Etienne-de-Baigorry. The mountains that surround this big village are perfect for the local vineyards that grow grapes to make the famous Irouleguy wine. There are three types of Irouleguy wine: white, rosé and red. The rosé and white wines, bright and enticing, have refreshing aromas. The tannins in the red wines progressively transform into aromas of blackberry, liquorice or violet. Various producers will welcome you to a private tasting session in their wine houses.

The discovery tour continues in the area around Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port where you will meet renowned sheep’s milk cheese producers.

Banka Trout, Bayonne Ham

Continue your tour in the beautiful Valley of the Aldudes. Follow the winding road through the Valley’s villages and discover a territory that is the quintessence of calm and authenticity.

The next stop is Michel Goicoechea’s fish farm: discover the Banka Trout and understand why trout farming is such an important aspect of the Basque Country, which is famous worldwide for its age-old know-how in this domain.

Last, but not least, on this discovery tour you will encounter the fruity character of Pierre Oteiza’s Bayonne Ham just outside the small village of the Aldudes. On an instructive tour of the mountain, lasting one hour, you will be able to see a species of pig that Pierre Oteiza saved from extinction 30 years ago; the free-range piebald pigs roam the Basque hills enjoying acorns and the fresh air. You will also cross paths with donkeys and vultures. This discovery walk around the valley will delight both adults and children!

 

 

A day on the other side of the border

Fontarrabia, Pasaia, San Sebastian, Getaria

The Basque Country is just a stone’s throw from Spain. Fall under the Hispanic spell of all that you will discover on a day-trip along the Spanish coast, just 20 minutes away.

Fontarrabia offers a vibrant cultural and artistic heritage. One of the rare fortified towns in the Basque Country, its rich history attracts many visitors. Come and admire the Marine quarter and the Old Town with its typical and colourful architecture. When the sun goes down over the yardarm and it’s time for an aperitif, you will be able to enjoy a glass of Rioja on the terrace of one of the town’s many Tapas bars. To get there, just hop on the ferry at the port of Hendaye that will take you across the bay in a 10-minute boat ride.

Next stop: the old town of Passaia. The industrial port of the town of San Sebastian, Passaia has a remarkably well-sheltered bay thanks to the narrow channel that connects it to the ocean. The atmosphere is truly delightful as you stroll along the narrow, stone-paved streets through the curious passageways under the houses that form the outskirts of the port.

Move on to the town of San Sebastian. Built around a white-sand bay between Mont Urgull and Mont Igueldo, San Sebastian is famous for being the town with the most Michelin stars per square meter in the world. The fishing port, the new aristocratic quarter and the modern neighbourhoods make this town one of the most attractive places to visit on the Cantabrian coast. The San Telmo museum, the “Peine del Viento” and the Kursaal are perfect illustrations of the town’s ability to blend tradition with modernity.

Continue your day trip with a delightful walk around the beautiful fishing village of Getaria, where you will be able to admire medieval houses and the port, and enjoy the walk right up to the ancient hermitage of San Anton. The Gothic church of San Salvador, built during the 15th century, is also a major place of historical interest. If you follow the narrow road that leads up to the top of Mount San Anton you will be thrilled with the magnificent panoramic view over the sea and the mountains.

Mutriku, Lekeitio, Mundaka, Bilbao

Take your discovery trip even further by going to Mutriku, a village that was founded in the early 13th Century with narrow, stone-paved streets along which are scattered magnificent mansions, towers and houses clad with coats-of arms. The parish church, Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, is one of the most emblematic buildings in the region and is a typical representation of neoclassical architecture in the Gipuzkoa province.

Your escapade will then take you further along the Bay of Biscay to Lekeitio, home to a certain number of significant Gothic treasures as well as an interesting fishing quarter with stretches of beaches facing Saint Nicolas Island, which is accessible on foot at low tide. The traditional quarter has a typically seaside character reflecting the village’s fishing history.

A stop at Mundaka is an absolute must in order to discover the famous surf spot that attracts many surfers every year. Mundaka is a seaside village situated at the heart of the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai. Walk around the fishing port and discover the tiny fishermen’s cottages that surround it, adding to the charm of this small town. Enjoy the spectacular view of Urdaibai by strolling along the Lamias footpath.

The last stop is the town of Bilbao and its irresistible cultural features. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has played an important role in the Basque Country’s cultural development and is an outstanding tourist attraction. This spectacular building (Frank O. Gehry, 1997) features a major private collection and, with New York and Venice, shares the world’s largest private collection of modern and contemporary art.

Sports Activities

Surfing & other Water Sports

“The Sun Also Rises”: it was thanks to this movie based on Ernest Hemingway's famous novel, shot in Biarritz in 1957 that the town became the European Surf Capital just a few years later. Screenwriter Peter Viertel, who was staying at the Hotel du Palais, had packed his surf board in the intention to “baptize” the waves of Southern France. Just like Peter Viertel, come and surf the waves of the Basque Country or maybe you prefer riding a Stand-Up Paddle Board*.

Be swept along on a Hawaiian Pirogue or Jet Ski in the Bay of Socoa, or fly on the crest of the waves by Kite-surfing on the beaches of Anglet.

*Lessons for children and adults
Bookings with our coaches at the Imperial Spa and our Concierges.

12 Golf courses from 18 to 27 holes 

The Basque Coast is a very special and unique place that, for many years now, has been attracting golfers from all over the world who are won over by the quality, diversity and beauty of the golf courses. An exceptional collection of courses, the variety of the grounds, the mild climate, the historical legacy and a certain way of life, all concur to make the Basque Country a Golf players’ paradise on earth. Here is the list of our Golf courses:

  • Biarritz Le Phare Golf course: 10 min walk – 18 holes par 69 – 5,402 metres.Created in 1888 and twinned with the Augusta Golf Club, Georgia – USA
    www.golfbiarritz.com
  • Seignosse Golf course: 40 min car drive – 18 holes par 72 – 6,129 metres.Created in 1989.
    www.golfseignosse.com
  • Chiberta Golf course: 10 min car drive – 27 holes par 70 – 5,901 metres.Created in 1926.
    www.golfchiberta.com
  • Makila de Bayonne Bassussarry Golf course: 15 min car drive – 18 holes par 72 – 6,176 metres created in 1992 
    www.makilagolfclub.com 
  • Chantaco Golf course: 15 min car drive – 18 holes par 70 – 5,833 metres. Created in 1928.
    www.chantaco.com
  • Nivelle Ciboure Golf course: 15 min car drive – 18 holes par 70 – 5,500 metres. Created in 1907.
    www.golfnivelle.com
  • Rustique d’Epherra Golf course: 30 min car drive – 18 holes par 67 – 4,500 metres. Created in 1992.
    www.golf-basque.com 
  • Moliets Golf course: 40 min car drive – 18 holes par 72 & 9 holes par 31 –6,286 metres for the 18 hole-course and 1,855 metres for the 9 hole-course. Created in 1999.
    www.golfmoliets.com
  • Hossegor Golf course: 30 min car drive – 18 holes par 71 – 6,004 metres. Created in 1930.
    www.golfhossegor.com
  • International Training Centre of the Ilbarritz Golf Club: 10 min car drive.Practice tee with 14 practice ranges – 9 holes par 32 – 2,176 metres. Created in 1988.
    www.golfilbarritz.com 
  • Saint Sebastian Golf course: 45 min car drive – 18 holes par 72 – 6,020 metres.Created in 1910.
    www.golfsansebastian.com

Biking, Mountain biking, Segway tours, A Stage of the Tour de France 


Whether with family or friends, three stop-overs are recommended for your bike or Segway outings: Biarritz, Anglet and Bayonne.

Visit Biarritz, the chic seaside resort, made famous by the Empress Eugenie. On an electrical bike, tandem bicycle or Segway, ride along the main beach, the “Grande Plage” and discover the Casino, fishing port, the “Port des pêcheurs”, the Rock of the Virgin Mary, “Rocher de la Vierge”, the “Côte des Basques” beach, the Lighthouse, the Imperial Chapel…

In Anglet, enjoy the cycle paths along the coastline taking you along vast stretches of beaches, through the pine forest of Chiberta and along to the grotto of the “Chambre d’Amour”.

Visit Bayonne and admire the town’s rich historical legacy: fortifications, cathedral, bullring, museums…

And why not ride through the Basque Country’s villages and discover all their secrets!

Watch a stage of the Tour de France in the region of Pau, only one hour away from Biarritz, and see the riders arrive after climbing the Col du Tourmalet, one of the Tour’s most decisive climbs.*


*Our Concierges will be delighted to book your places in the grandstand.

Canyoning, Rafting

The Commune of Bidarray will welcome you for a day packed full of adventures in the heart of the mountains: white water activities have a natural setting in the Basque Country’s River Nive. 

Come and participate in a fun, friendly and lively activity with your family and friends.

Canyoning: experience an alliance of sensations by swimming under waterfalls, sliding down natural slopes and abseiling down the cliff face. Canyoning will take you to the heart of wild nature in the preserved sites of the Basque Country.

Rafting: a cocktail of great fun and big thrills! Depending on what experience you are seeking, you can choose between various craft: Raft, Mini Raft, Hydro, Hot Dog…

Driving experience, Grand Prix of Pau

At the wheel of an ultra-powerful motor, come and put your sangfroid to the test and experience a rush of adrenaline on the circuit in Pau-Arnos, only an hour away from Biarritz.

Racing Organisation will offer you various options to choose from for your driving experience: Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche Cayman/GT3 and even the Ferrari F430 and F458, all equipped for Formula 3 racing. You will leave with unforgettable memories of unequalled sensations.

For the most enthusiastic amongst you, the Hotel du Palais recommends you see, or see again, two famous French car races: the Historical Grand Prix of Pau and the Grand Prix of Pau that both take place during the month of May*.

Pau is known as the town of the Kings of Navarre and the Princes of the Automobile.

This race has a unique heritage and is where many Sports Car Racing heroes have tested their driving skills, from the Chevalier de Knyff to Lewis Hamilton, and other great racing drivers from different racing eras. 

*Our Concierges will be delighted to book your places in the grandstand.

Hiking, Trekking

Few places in France offer as many hiking opportunities as the Basque Country! From the high mountains of the Soule province to the Spanish Sierra Mountains, from the coastal paths to the forests of Iraty, there is a multitude of natural splendours to discover in the Basque Country.

A hike in the Basque Country is a journey in the Pyrenees where you will discover extraordinary sites, rich heritage, and majestic landscapes. Above all, you will witness the beauty of nature that neither Man nor his labour has disrupted. No fewer than thirty paths are recommended!

The Coast path: the mountains on one side, beaches and cliffs on the other, this path will take you from Bidart to Hendaye. Enjoy breathtaking views of the most beautiful landscapes of the Basque Coast as you walk the 25 km along the coastline. Suitable for all, it is possible to walk the entire path in a day (set aside 7 hours) or over a couple of days if you wish to take time to visit the different towns and villages on the way.

Hiking path: Perukain-Arbonne. This lovely itinerary alternates between pastures and woodlands.

Hiking path: Intsola-Urrugne. This walk takes you on a round trip, leaving from the Chapel of Olhette to the Intsola Venta: a peaceful walk through various forest settings, an ideal stroll that the whole family will enjoy.

Hiking path: Besoingo-Ahetze. This walk will take you along the Besoingo stream to discover different forest and farmland environments.

And many others…

Horse Riding, Polo 

Come and discover, have fun and participate in an equestrian discipline thanks to the variety of activities offered by the Region’s equestrian centres in Biarritz, Chiberta, and Arcangues and enjoy long treks in the Basque Country.

Let yourself be tempted by the fabulous and noble sport of polo during the tournaments that are organised in Biarritz during the months of May, July and September, where players from all over the world come to compete against each other and share a common passion.

Attend or participate in other equestrian events such as the 4-star International Jumping event in Pau (1 hour away from Biarritz) that takes place every year during the month of October.

Paramotor, Microlight aviation


Discover the Basque Country from the sky.

Two Microlight aviation bases are available. One is in Urrugne, on the coast between Hendaye and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The other is located in Sames in the Adour Valley, between the Basque Country and the Landes department, 30 minutes away from Biarritz. 

Different options are possible:

  • Take your first paramotor or microlight flight that will take you over the Basque Coast and the mountains or the Barthes marshlands, along the mountain streams and the Adour.
  • To obtain your licence, all that is required is to be in good physical shape, be aged over 15 and be ready to fulfil your dream of flying! Learning is easy!

You will find yourself flying through the air while being comfortably seated in a first row seat of an amazing show.

This experience guarantees intense sensations and will provide you with a combined feeling of freedom and fulfilment. 

Sea Fishing, Discovering the Bay of Biscay

When it comes to sea and river fishing the Basque Country has a strong reputation built on its rich legacy of whale and cod fishing and, more recently, tuna fishing.

The Basque Country is the perfect place to safely embark on this marine adventure.

  • Departing from Anglet, Saint-Jean-de-Luz or Hendaye, enjoy a morning sea trip along the rocky plateau coastline between Biarritz and Fontarabia where you will be able to catch: squid, sea bream, mackerel, horse mackerel and even conger eels! 
    Jig fishing will no longer hold any secrets from you!
  • For an even more challenging fishing experience, deep-sea fishing will have you tackling tuna fish and small sharks.
  • You can also try out fly-fishing in calm or fast waters of the Rivers Nive and Bidouze, towards Artouste, on the Gave d’Ossau or at Saint-Engrace…

The most curious adventurers can spend a whole day discovering the marine fauna on board a traditional tuna boat, a beautiful illustration of Basque culture and gather a wealth of information on the marine ecosystem in the Bay of Biscay.

 

A Day in Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Bordeaux, town of art and history, is a classified UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our Concierges offer two types of day trips where you can choose to go in a limousine, with a chauffeur, or by helicopter. Upon arrival, you will have the opportunity of visiting the Grand Cru wine storehouses in the Medoc region, Saint Emilion or the Margaux estates; enjoy a delicious lunch in one of the Chateaus or in one of the many restaurants that offer gourmet specialities from Bordeaux. The visit will continue through the town in a private car.

Come and discover the secrets of Bordeaux wines, the Museum of Wine and Wine Trade located in the heart of this historical area. The town’s history and its world-famous wines will be revealed through a visit of the wine storehouses and a wide array of historical objects and modern scenography.

This journey of the senses includes astonishing visits, gourmet experiences, initiations to the art of Bordeaux wine tasting, wine storehouse visits, rallies for everyone to enjoy, discovery tours of different sites and monuments… Tread in the footsteps of history by walking around the old town’s beautiful public squares dotted around the Saint Pierre and Sainte Croix neighbourhoods. Admire the 18th century architectural treasures by passing through the Quartier des Grands Hommes and the Town Hall neighbourhoods, walk along the docks up to the Place des Quinconces main square and enjoy a relaxing pause in the public gardens that were created and designed by Le Nôtre in 1746, drawing inspiration from the Gardens of Versailles, with its adjoining arboretum, library and Natural History Museum.