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A relaxing itinerary in the Basque country?

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We are planning an ~9 day vacation in the Basque country in early May. I visited Bayonne and St. Juan Pied de Port more than 30 years ago and loved it (my ancestors are from there).
For this trip we'd like to take in the Spanish and some of the French side, and stay in at most two places---a leisurely trip.

In reading through the many posts on this topic, it looks like flying in and out of Bilbao from the US would work. We'd rather not be in a big city for too long though so I don't know that Bilbao would be one of our 'bases."

What are everyone's recommendations for: a) a couple of spots to make our base during the 9 days, and b) towns to see via day trips. We plan to rent a car.

In terms of what we want to do and see: enjoy the food, people, nature, walking, easy hiking, culture, and some museums.

Thank you!

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