Any Bayonne recommendations?

Old Feb 5th, 2024, 10:58 AM
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Any Bayonne recommendations?

In May 2024 my wife and I will be traveling from Bilbao to southern France before heading to the Mediterranean coast then down to Barcelona. We will have a car. After Bilbao we plan to head north to Bayonne for 2 days. Originally, we thought of staying in Biarritz but are currently thinking we would enjoy Bayonne more. Any general recommendations on how you enjoy Bayonne? Any specific recommendations in Bayonne for lodging, restaurants, historical sites, museums, hiking, activities, etc?
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Old Feb 5th, 2024, 11:10 AM
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I do enjoy Bayonne with a very strong Basque feel at the confluence of 2 rivers, and have stayed there several times in July. We stay at the Hotel des Basque Pyrenees but there are other options. We stay there because of the dining and the rooms with a/c and the central location. We love the dining scene in Bayonne, so much to recommend on both sides of the river (too many to mention in this short post), in Grand Bayonne and Petit Bayonne across the river. Ask me for specific recommendations. The food in Bayonne is fabulous.

We love the Basque ethnographic museum, really fascinating insight into Basque history and culture, plan on spending 2+ hours there. It's across the river and bridge in Petit Bayonne

We don't do hiking but there is hiking around.

The cathedral is lovely, a staging area for the Chemin de St Jacques, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain and the cathedral often holds evening concerts. Check the schedule or see more into here. The official tourism site here.

We take the cogwheel train to the top of la Rhune in Sare and many passengers hike down, and afterwards we visit the caves, les Grottes de Sare. The pretty Basque villages of Sare, Espelette, Ainhoa, Ascain are within a short drive.

Bayonne has a nice indoor market and weekly outdoor market, very nice shops selling traditional Basque linens, chocolates (as it has a very important chocolate history), charcuterie (the Bayonne ham is excellent), and everything else, food wise.

The Chronoplus bus system and the tram make it very easy for us to visit Biarritz, Anglet, Bidart, etc. for markets and for the beaches. And to visit lovely Saint-Jean-de-Luz and/or Guéthary, we take the inexpensive TER train.
In short we go to Bayonne every July and we love it. It's a very Basque city, utterly authentic, with strong traditions and completely different from Biarritz.

Last edited by Maribel; Feb 5th, 2024 at 11:42 AM.
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Old Feb 5th, 2024, 11:43 AM
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My spouse and I spent four nights in Bayonne last year, and enjoyed this small city very much (caveat, we're not beach people, so while we visited Biarritz one day, we weren't drawn to staying there). We stayed at Hotel Villa Koegui Bayonne, and parked our rental car at the close-by public lot that's by the river. We loved having drinks at the cafes along the Nive River. It was very easy to get in and out of the city as we made day trips, primarily further southeast into the French Basque country. I apparently was bad during this part of our trip at taking notes about where we ate dinner, though I do remember that we enjoyed our meals.

There is hiking throughout the region; as you probably have already read, St-Jean-Pied-de-Port is on the French camino. I find it fascinating that routes through the Pyrenees have been used by residents on both sides for centuries. During the Spanish civil war, refugees were fleeing from Spain to France, and in WWII, Jews and others were fleeing France to Spain. I would have loved to hike during this trip, but the spouse was recovering from a broken leg.

On a prior trip, that I took my parents on, we stayed in Ainhoa at a lovely B&B. Also couldn't hike on that trip, due to their ages, but I love the French Basque countryside. Definitely visit St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and towns along the way, such as Espelette. I also took the Rune train with my parents; it's lovely on a clear day! You can also hike up to the top, or hike down. Ainhoa is a lovely, picture-postcard village; there's a short walk here to a historic spring.

Enjoy your visit to this area!
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Old Feb 5th, 2024, 11:48 AM
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We're actually going to stay in Ainhoa this summer at the Hotel Argi Eder, after staying at the equally lovely Ithurri. Both have wonderful restaurants. Yes, go take the train up to La Rhune on a clear day to see the entire Basque Country and the sea.
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Old Feb 5th, 2024, 12:07 PM
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There are so many lovely dining options in Bayonne/Baiona to mention, since it's the Basque Country after all, where fine dining/food in general, is an obsession. But honestly, our most memorable meal in the many summers we've spend in Bayonne---La Table Sébastien Gravé, from Pottoka in Paris, Our meal here was truly memorable. But there are many more great options in Grand Bayonne and Petit Bayonne on the opposite sides of the river.
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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 06:00 PM
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Just to make sure you are aware that Bayonne and Biarritz (along with Anglet) make just one city, Bayonne being the old part and Biarritz the seaside part. Maybe 4 miles being the 2 "centers". If you are staying 2 nights, I would recommend to start with selecting your accommodation. It won't make a lot of difference for restaurants, activities.. wherever you stay.
You won't have a lot of time for hiking once you have visited Bayonne and Biarritz. If you like to walk, some suggestions:
- for seaside walks, there is a coastal path from La Barre till Biarritz lighthouse. At low tide, you can walk on the beach from cote des Basques till Bidart.
- for pine forest walks, you can go to Metro Beach in Tarnos
- along the Nive, from Bayonne to Ustaritz, bike path with an optional detour to a preserve

Last edited by rouelan; Feb 12th, 2024 at 06:43 PM.
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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 07:32 PM
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You have to taste the BIG specialty of the town, an absoluetly delicious smoked ham (jambon de Bayonne)
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Old Feb 14th, 2024, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by travelrex
In May 2024 my wife and I will be traveling from Bilbao to southern France before heading to the Mediterranean coast then down to Barcelona. We will have a car. After Bilbao we plan to head north to Bayonne for 2 days. Originally, we thought of staying in Biarritz but are currently thinking we would enjoy Bayonne more. Any general recommendations on how you enjoy Bayonne? Any specific recommendations in Bayonne for lodging, restaurants, historical sites, museums, hiking, activities, etc?
There's the Musée Basque


Driving to the base of the mountian and taking the cog RR to the top (maybe walking back down) will give you a nice fiew of the area:


The churches of the small towns have their own regional characteristics:

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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 09:54 AM
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Driving to the base of the mountian and taking the cog RR to the top (maybe walking back down) will give you a nice fiew of the area:



Thanks for the tips. Where exactly is the cog RR? How long of a walk down is it?

I'm starting to think we may need to stay 3 nights in the Bayonne area.
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by travelrex
Driving to the base of the mountian and taking the cog RR to the top (maybe walking back down) will give you a nice fiew of the area:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...7627163616289/


Thanks for the tips. Where exactly is the cog RR? How long of a walk down is it?

I'm starting to think we may need to stay 3 nights in the Bayonne area.
It’s outside of the village of Sare. If you do decide to take this cogwheel train, please secure your train tickets online to avoid a long wait.
https://www.rhune.com/fr/
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by travelrex


Where exactly is the cog RR? How long of a walk down is it?
It is about 5 kms and 800 meters down from la Rhune till col de st Ignace (RR station). 1,5 hour should be fine. It is quite steep, especially the 1st part between La Rhune and col des 3 Fontaines. If you want to check, we have in France an excellent mapping app (Geoportail) for hiking.
as said by Maribel, booking the train is essential and tickets are not refundable in case of bad weather, which is not unusual in this area...
Riding the train is fun. But if your prime motivation is hiking and beautiful views from top of mountains, there are many opportunities in the area. For example, if you don't like to climb, just drive to col d'Ibardin. Several trails depart from there.
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