Area around Biarritz

Feb 8th, 1999, 05:53 PM
Sydney Brown
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Area around Biarritz

I will be houseswapping for two weeks in April in Biarritz. Does anyone have suggestions for trips from there (day or overnight) either in France or Spain?
Feb 8th, 1999, 05:59 PM
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We spent 4 days in Sare (up the mountain from Biarritz) and had a wonderful time there. Beautiful little town with a Jai Lai court in constant use(fun to watch). Also would suggest crossing the Spanish border to Honnderibia (sp?) just across the border. Even though you're only a few kilometres from France , it's clearly a different country. Enjoy!
Feb 9th, 1999, 01:20 AM
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Lucky you ! Although spring can be a little unpredictible in the Basque country, Biarritz is at its best before the tourists rush in. There are lots of day trips to do in the Pyrenees (Oloron, Pau). Crossing the border, you'll go to San Sebastian (Donostia in basque), the Spanish equivalent to Biarritz, and Bilbao, an ugly town but with the stunning new Guggenheim museum. On the French side, you can even drive or take the train to Bordeaux (1 hour). And if you want to soak the atmosphere in the local sports : of course jai alai ("pelote basque" in French), and, most of all, don't miss a rugby match. Biarritz, Bayonne, Pau are all very good teams with international players. And, I was about to forget, the local jewel : Saint Jean de Luz, a XVIIth century harbor, 30 km from Biarritz. Have fun, and eat well !
Feb 9th, 1999, 05:52 AM
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Vincent has told you most of the things you can do around the area (although I wouldn´t say my hometown is so ugly...).
Don´t forget the beaches. The water won´t be hot enough for a bath, but there are some very good spots for surfing, in both sides of the frontier. You can go on a day trip to the small fishing villages on the spanish Basque Country (Getaria, Zumaia, Zarautz, Hondarribia), San Sebastian, of course.
There is a mountain on the frontier between Spain and France that is called Larrun, and it has a small train that goes up the mountain, with fine views over Spain. On the coast between Bayonne and Bordeaux you can find the Pila Dune (near Hossegor, I think). It´s a really huge sand dune on the coast. Curious. When you travel by plane along the coast you can see it.
I love Pau and Oloron, really nice towns, and then you have the Pyrenees.
But don´t think that the spanish side will be so different to the french one. You won´t find toreros or flamenco dancers walking through the streets.

And don´t forget the food, both sides.
Feb 10th, 1999, 01:25 AM
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Oops, sorry cavadonga, I didn't want to be offensive, and, you're right, "ugly" is too harsh for Bilbao. I was just meaning that, as most traditional XIXth Century industrial cities in Europe, the first look is not very appeling for a newcomer. But I personnally find a lot of charm to Liverpool, Glasgow, Wuppertal, Lille or Bilbao. So, please accept my apology !
Feb 10th, 1999, 05:09 PM
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I was speaking with my french instructor last week. He's been in the States for only a year, but by chance we happened to be discussing the Biarritz area. He told me that even on the French side of the border there continue to be terrorist attacks, particularly on trucks and tourists, not to harm the people, but to steal their money/goods to finance their uprising.
I cannot vouch for his comments, except to be convinced that he was sincere. You might enquire when you get there if there is any danger.
I thought twice before posting this as normally when I post it is about something I have personally seen or done, but this was a frenchman and he was quite sincere.
Feb 11th, 1999, 01:31 AM
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Let's get our words straight ! "Terrorist attacks" in the Basque country are just plain bank robberies that occur no more or less often than in any Western country. Don't picture yourself in a country under siege : Biarritz is not Pristina ! (the millions of tourists going there - I mean Biarritz - would avoid the area otherwise). It is not Corsica either, with rampant corruption and no respect for the laws.
Feb 13th, 1999, 08:36 PM
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I checked again with my French friend. He indicates that some French trucking lines will no longer make shipments in the region due to attacks on their trucks. Tourists are likewise stopped and robbed. I asked a few other questions of him: Has it stopped? Don't know. Were these terrorists? They are organized Basques commiting acts of highway piracy and violence as a means to finance their activities in support of a separate Basque nation. Not the IRA by any means, but not Robin Hood either.
I don't personally know the facts of this matter. In fact, I thought most of the killing and violence was on the Spanish side of the border, but my associate assures me that the term "truck stop" in the Biarritz area has a unique meaning and that tourists aren't exempt.
Mar 22nd, 2008, 11:08 AM
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Don't like what I'm hearing.
louanne is offline  
Mar 25th, 2008, 06:39 PM
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We were there (Capbreton, just north of Biarritz)in 2006 and had no problems whatsoever, although were often corrected for using the wrong language. We'd stayed one night in Donostia-San Sebastian, and I thanked a cab driver in Euskaria (sp? - the Basque language) and he nicely informed me that he didn't speak that, as he was Spanish, then later I thanked a waiter at a restaurant in Spanish, and was told he was not Spanish, he was Basque. They were all nice about it, though, but as is true anywhere, having a few phrases, and at least making an effort goes a long way.
cat111719 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 10:00 AM
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Does everyone speak Spanish though?
louanne is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 01:34 PM
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Louanne, relax and calm down. This is a very peaceful and relaxed area, no attacks on tourists whatsoever and no trucks stopping in the border. Everybody speaks Spanish on the Spanish side and this is one of the richest areas in Europe (or most of Europe, at least)with a very high standard of living.

And regarding the tempest we´ve had, everything´s fine and no havoc can be seen anywhere.
mikelg is online now  
Apr 1st, 2008, 01:54 PM
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Sometimes one has to take what you hear on forums with a grain of salt, especially old posts. I have been visiting the Basque country, both the Pays Basque and País Vasco, for a number of years without encountering any problems, except finding road signs in some areas where the Spanish names haven't been blacked out. But it does force you to learn the names in Euskara.

Yes, everyone in the País Vasco speaks Spanish, as does most in the Pays Basque. A great number of Basque are also fluent in English since a number of them have friends and family in the States.

I suggest you download copies of Maribel's Guides to the Pays Basque and País Vasco and read about what you can expect to experience and discover.

Robert2533 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 03:23 PM
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I think everyone does speak Spanish, but I also think that it is courteous to learn at least a few Basque phrases.
cat111719 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 05:44 PM
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Thank you all, for those soothing words.
louanne is offline  
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