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Itinerary check, please - Pays Basque (France) + a day in Spain

Itinerary check, please - Pays Basque (France) + a day in Spain

Mar 12th, 2011, 12:48 PM
  #1  
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Itinerary check, please - Pays Basque (France) + a day in Spain

Group of 8/9, mostly older adults, traveling from Sarlat (this will be our second full week) to the Pays Basque. Our house is just outside la Bastide-Clairence, one of the "plus beaux villages" about 30 minutes east of Biarritz. Here's what I've planned.

Sat. May 21: Leave Sarlat by 9:30-10:00, drop off E in Libourne for train back to Paris (she is leaving the group to return home the next day) pick up C & R at Biarritz airport (they're flying in from Paris, will get their own car here), continue on to our house in la Bastide-Clairence. Check in with owner, get groceries, settle in, dinner in B-C (La Table Gourmande or Iduki) Any other resto recommendations in the area would be appreciated..

Sun. May 22: If nice weather, visit Sare, take the cog train to the top of la Rhune mountain, to Lac de Saint-Pée (picnic lunch?) and then back to Cambo-les-Bains, visit Villa Arnaga, perhaps the Atelier du Chocolat. (there's another in Bayonne but I think we'll have more time for it today) Return to La B-C. Dinner at home.

Mon. May 23: Market day in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, have lunch here then to Saint-Etienne-de-Baigorry in the Aldudes Valley. From here we may venture into Spain and then return home via Ainhoa and Espelette. (Anyone driven that road, the D949, becomes the NA 2600 in Spain? - looks a bit hairy!) Dinner at home.

Tues. May: Slower day - spend some time in la B-C, perhaps do some shopping in the arts & crafts shops. After lunch, may visit Isturitz caves and/or one of the nearby farms. Dinner in La B-C.

Weds. May 25: Bayonne and Biarritz. In Bayonne, visit the Basque Museum and, perhaps, the Bonnat Art Museum. After a quick lunch,continue on to Biarritz, see the casino, the port, the beaches and the Rocher de la Vierge. Perhaps take the “petit train” to save our feet! Pick up a “gateau Basque” in Biarritz or at Moulin de Bassilour near Bidart. Dinner at home.

Thurs. May 26: A day in Spain - San Sebastian and, possibly, Bilbao. I'm debating whether to stay in SS or drive another 1 hr + to Bilbao in the afternoon. We wouldn't even have time to go inside the Guggenheim, I think. And it would be 2hrs.+ back to our house from there. Worth it? (dreaded question!) In SS is there somewhere we could sample tapas or pintxos for lunch or is that strictly an evening thing? Dinner at home.

Fri. May 27: St-Jean-de-Luz , Ciboure, drive along La Corniche Basque (coast road) to Hendaye, return via Ascain, Ustaritz, any other villages we may have missed. Back home by 5:00 or so to pack. Dinner in la B-C or nearby.

Sat. May 28 – We will leave our house around 9:00 am, return our cars at the Biarritz airport, whole group will return to Paris (plane from Biarritz leaves 11:10, arrives at Orly 12:30), last night at the Muguet. Home the next day.

I know I am giving short shrift to the cities but I think my folks will enjoy the villages and countryside more. Would be glad for any suggestions for additions, subtractions and especially advice about Spain (Mon. and/or Thurs. above). I've never set foot in Spain before so am a bit out of my depth. Fortunately I'll have a couple of fluent Spanish speakers with me. Have made good use of http://maribelsguides.com/mg_pays_basque.pdf and her pages on San Sebastian and Bilbao.

Merci beaucoup!
Betty1 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2011, 02:20 PM
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It's a bit too rushed for me, and a lot of driving! Your parents won't have time to catch their breath, let alone enjoy themselves. And forget about visiting Bilbao unless you're spending the night there, in San Sebastian, or some other place nearby.
Robert2533 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2011, 02:57 PM
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>>Mon. May 23: Market day in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port<,

This is a nice town to visit, but don't go there for the market - one of the puniest we've ever visited in France. We were quuite disappionted. We stayed in a gite for 2 weeks near there in Osses. I'll try to find time to look over your itinerary in more detail tomorrow.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 13th, 2011, 06:10 AM
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Thanks for the comments, Robert. It is a pretty full itinerary, I know. We may well not get to everything. I would have preferred to be a little closer to the coast to cut down on the driving, but the house in la B-C was the best I could find to accommodate my group comfortably. Still, all of our destinations other than SS/Bilbao are less than an hour's drive away. And these are not my parents! Just a group of older adults traveling together.

Stu, we aren't going to SJPP specifically for the market. I just thought that would be a good Monday destination and it happens that that is their market day. I'll look forward to hearing other comments from you.
Betty1 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2011, 06:41 AM
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Food-crazy San Sebastián would be the best place to sample pintxos in all of the Basque country. Definitely also at lunchtime: http://www.todopintxos.com/home/home.php?lang=en
kimhe is offline  
Mar 13th, 2011, 12:44 PM
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Here are a few thoughts:

On 5/22, 5/23, and 5/27 you are visiting many villages (Sare, St Pee, Ainhoa, Espelette, Ascain, and Ustaritz) that are quite close to each other. Perhaps reduce that to 1 or 2 passes through these villages.

When we drive around looking at all the scenery and we enouunter a particularly scenic road, I write "pretty" or "scenic" on my Michelin map next to the road. One "circular" route where I have this written is just east of St Jean Pied du Port. The route is described in the Michelin Green Guide under la SOULE. Take the D18 southeast from St Jean. When the D18 hits the D19 - take the D19 north/left and go over the "scenic" Col Bagargui. Then continue east on the D19/D26 to Tardets-Sorholus. Then take the D117/D417 west back to St Jean. I think this region is "open range", and you may encounter lots of cows lying in the middle of the road.

I'm pretty sure we took the D15 west of St Jean into Spain and on to Ainhoa. I did not write "pretty" or "scenic" on this drive. Perhaps do the Col Bagargui drive instead.

In St Jean, just after you go under a "port"/bridge, there is a very nice deli/food store on your left. We've purchased many items for dinner at this store. Go inside & take a "smell" around - if it is still there.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 13th, 2011, 01:31 PM
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Thanks a lot, Stu. Will take all this to heart. Do you happen to remember or did you record how long it took to do that loop from SJPP over the Col de Bagargui? And we will definitely look for the deli/food store in SJPP.
Betty1 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2011, 04:00 PM
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>>did you record how long it took to do that loop from SJPP over the Col de Bagargui<<

Nope - but ViaMichelin says it is about a 2 1/2 hr RT from St Jean.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 14th, 2011, 03:31 AM
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ttt - hoping for some more input
Betty1 is offline  

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