The Basque Country, Gascony, and Hautes-Pyrénées: Places to Explore


  • Ainhoa

    The Basque village of Ainhoa is officially registered among the villages selected by the national tourist ministry as the prettiest in France. A showcase town for the Labourd region established in the 13th... Read more

  • Bayonne

    At the confluence of the Adour and Nive rivers, Bayonne, France's most indelibly Basque city, was in the fourth century a Roman fort, or castrum, and for 300 years (1151–1451) a British colony. The city... Read more

  • Biarritz

    Biarritz may no longer lay claim to the title "the resort of kings and the king of resorts"; however, today there's no shortage of deluxe hotel rooms or bow-tied gamblers ambling over to the casino. The... Read more

  • Cauterets

    Cauterets (which derives from the word for hot springs in the local bigourdan dialect) is a spa and resort town (for long-term treatments) high in the Pyrénées. It has been revered since Roman times for... Read more

  • Eugénie-les-Bains

    Empress Eugénie popularized the thermal baths of this region at the end of the 19th century, and in return the villagers baptised this town after her. Then, in 1973, Michel and Christine Guérard made the... Read more

  • Gavarnie

    Geologists point to the famous natural wonder that is the Cirque de Gavarnie as one of the world's most formidable examples of the effects of glacial erosion; the cliffs were worn away by the advancing... Read more

  • Lourdes

    The mountain town of Lourdes is probably the most famous Catholic pilgrimage site (and sight) in the world. Some 5 million visitors come each year from every corner of the globe, many of them not Christians... Read more

  • Pau

    The stunning views, mild climate, and elegance of Pau—the historic capital of Béarn, a state annexed to France in 1620—make it a lovely place to visit and a convenient gateway to the Pyrénées. The birthplace... Read more

  • Sare

    The much-prized and picturesque village of Sare, described by author Pierre Loti in his Ramuntxo as a virtually autonomous Eden, is built around a large fronton, or backboard, where a permanent pelota... Read more

  • Sauveterre-de-Béarn

    Enchantingly picturesque, the Romanesque-turning-into-Gothic church here crowns a hill from which unfolds a storybook vista—in the foreground is a postcard-perfect group of buildings—the Gave d'Oloron... Read more

  • St-Jean-de-Luz

    Back in 1660, Louis XIV chose this tiny fishing village as the place to marry the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. Ever since, travelers have journeyed here to enjoy the unique coastal charms of St-Jean... Read more

  • St-Jean-Pied-de-Port

    St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a fortified town on the Nive River, got its name from its position at the foot (pied) of the mountain pass (port) of Roncevaux (Roncesvalles). The pass was the setting for La Chanson... Read more