The Basque Country: Tips from a Travel Photographer.
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Long time I didn't write a blog post, but here I am back again !
I hope you all had a great summer, even if 2020 isn't the easiest or best year for some of us, especially travellers.
I really do love travelling, but with the current situation we couldn't travel outside of Europe so I spent my summer between Brussels (my home city), France and Spain (Barcelona, where I currently live) and I wanted to share some photos, recommendations & tips from my trip to the Basque Country, famous for their surf beaches.
Have you already been to the Spanish or French Basque Country? It's at the Atlantic Ocean side, in the South West of France and North West of Spain, but when you ask to a Basque he will answer "it's not in France nor in Spain, it's in the Basque Country". I'll now focus on the French part, let me know if you want another article about the Spanish Basque Country where I have been several times too :) I discovered the Basque Country 6 years ago, since then I am here once a year, mostly during summer.
So with my friends we stayed in a typical basque house next to Saint Jean de Luz, which is a small, cute little village next to the beach. This one is not a surf beach, it's calm and familiar, but I really like the chill side and it's not that packed with people. In Saint Jean de Luz you have a nice place to have drinks and foods, well you have different places but this one I really like, it's called "Le Garage". Inside you find different food trucks, a central bar and cool typical Basque games, outside there is a terrace. If some one of your group would like to eat pizza, but you are more down for tacos, this is the perfect place. There is something for everyone !
The main shopping street in Saint Jean de Luz is really nice to find some typical souvenirs, clothes, espadrilles etc. It's a nice village to walk around and do some (window) shopping.
A little higher up you can find the famous city Biarritz. A beautiful city with different beaches like "La Plage des Basques" where you'll find all the surf classes & professional surfers. There is no sand beach, the only (wet) sand you'll have is in the morning when it's low tide. "La Grande Plage" which is the main beach and not a surf beach, it might be touristic but the colored tents make it charming. I love going to the "Port des Pêcheurs", it's very authentic with some nice seafood restaurants. Also, you can jump into the water from the rocks or bridge, there is a small creek where you can chill and go in the water without jumping. From there, there is a really nice walk to do to "la vierge", you can enjoy great views, landscapes and a walk between the trees and the rocky side of the city. This hike is between Le Port des Pêcheurs and "Port Vieux". Port Vieux is another beach that is smaller than La Grande Plage, it's cosy but can get packed in summer. In Biarritz there are a lot of delicious restaurants, but this year I discovered La Plancha. It's on the beach of "Ilbarritz", another super nice beach with piknik-spots in the grass just next to the sandy beach. It's outside of the city center, but this restaurant is damn worth it (about 10 minutes driving, 30 minutes walking from Biarritz center). I recommend it to everyone, the fish and seafood are amazing, the cocktails also tho ! And you can enjoy all of this with an amazing sunset. Speaking of cocktails, going up from (with the stairs) La Plage des Basques there is a nice spot to have an apéro; Les cents Marches. Here you can order drinks, cheese & charcuterie plates and other snacks. There are some tables outside (go early), locals playing petanque, you can also go sit there in the grass or on the stones with your own snacks and bottle of wine & beers. Enjoy the amazing sea view with the surfers and the castle (photo).
Last but not least, don't miss Les Halles; a big indoor market with a bunch of bars and restaurants around. We had dinner in Le Bistrot de Biarritz, which has amazing quality food !
At the market you can find typical products like fresh fish, fruits, breads, charcuterie, cheese etc. It's open in the morning until 2pm. In the evening it's cool to have a drink here, there is a nice atmosphere.
One of my other favorites is Anglet. Anglet is just next to Biarritz, you can reach it by walking or driving by "Le Phare" (lighthouse), where you can walk around and admire the views.
There is also a little food truck where they make pizzas, croque monsieurs, sandwiches etc. It's not 'haute cuisine', but it's a really nice stop to take a break. The beach of Anglet is an amazing wide surfer beach with generally big waves. Anglet doesn't really has a city center, but if you go to "Chambre d'Amour", love this name btw, there are many bars and restaurant at the beach side, an amazing sunset is here enjoyable.
Usually we also go to Bayonne to celebrate "Les Fêtes de Bayonne", but because of the COVID-situation the event got cancelled this year. Hopefully we can go back during summer 2021, it's always at the end of July and the first weekend of August during 5 days. Let's say the concept is mostly eating, drinking, walking around & meeting people, enjoying the moments and at night some music & dancing. Everyone is dressed up the same; in white and red. Recommendation 100%, it's an amazing time. It used to be free, now they ask 8 euros only for the weekend (still super cheap), so during the week it's still free.
But even without this happening, Bayonne is definitely worth the visit. There is no beach, but the city has small little streets with a very typical architecture around the river, nice restaurants and little shops.
Hope you liked this article. Don't hesitate to send me an e-mail with your comments, feedback or questions.