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September Trip - Loire Valley,Pyrenees and Basque Country

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Jan 9th, 2016, 02:10 PM
  #1
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September Trip - Loire Valley,Pyrenees and Basque Country

I need advise on a September trip I am in the midst of planning. My husband and will be in France for 17 nights. I still owe everyone a trip report from our trip this past December to Paris, Provence and the Dordogne! When I finalize these plans, I'll start working on that report.

Here is what I am contemplating:
Arrive Paris and train to Tours. Pick up rental car. 4 nights in Blois
Drive to Parc Nationale du Pyrenees (about 8 hour drive). 3 nights in Cauterets
Drive to French Basque Country. 3 nights in Bidarray at Auberge Ostape.
Drop off car at Biarritz airport. 3 nights in either Biarritz or San Sebastian
Train form Biarritz to Paris. 4 nights in Paris.

Is that too aggressive of an itinerary? Am I alllowing enough time in each place? We had originally planned to drive from Blois to Bidarray and spend 4 nights at the Auberge and then 5 nights in San Sebastian. I started looking at pictures of the Pyrenees and my plans fell apart!
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Jan 9th, 2016, 09:13 PM
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Avoid driving out of Tours by renting your car at St Pierre des Corps, right outside of town. The offices are in the train stations, and the cars right outside in the lot. Blois to the Parc on viamichelin is 8:22, translating to maybe around 9, plus lunch and fuel. You could bring back the car, catch the 10:05AM train to St Jean de Luz, a very cute town between Biarritz and St S, about a 5 hour journey. Then pick up another car after a couple of nights.
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Jan 9th, 2016, 09:39 PM
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The Augerge Ostrape isn't somewhere one goes to do any touring of the region. It's where you go to get away from it all. You might be better served staying at the Auberge Basqu.
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Jan 10th, 2016, 04:07 AM
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Thank you both Ron and Robert.
Good advise on taking train to St Jean de Luz. Suppose I could do the trip in reverse. If we ended this part of the trip in the mountains, would you return the car in Toulouse?

Or we just stick to original plan with Pays Basque and San Sebastián and forget staying in the high Pyrenees.

I had chosen Auberge Ostape for the natural beauty surrounding it and to kick back as well. Thought we'd go on a few hikes and also visit a few of the villages in the area. I did look at Auberge Basgue. I will revisit it.

Another question. If I stick to the pays basque area, would it be possible to go on a day trip to the higher elevations?
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Jan 10th, 2016, 08:25 AM
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Which days in September are you talking about? My understanding is that the high Pyrenees has a short-ish summer season, but I have never been in September so maybe it is reasonable bet for good weather straight through to October.

I drove one morning from San Sebastian to Larrau for lunch -- about a 2 hour drive -- but then I went onward to other parts of the Pyrenees rather than return to San Sebastian. It would have been an even shorter drive to lunch had I been starting in the Pays Basque.

Looking at your original plan, something I might be tempted to do if the weather is nice is go from Bidarray in the general direction of Borce, stopping for lunch somewhere around there, and then from there going to San Sebastian via Jaca. I have no idea if that is a scenic route or just a big pain to drive -- but the point is that instead of going from Bidarray straight to San Sebastian, I'm make a day of it, through a scenic part of the Pyrenees, but only if the weather is nice.

For me it would boil down to how many meals will I get in San Sebastian vs. how much do I want to go hiking?

For what it's worth, St Jean de Luz was too cute for me. Very touristy.
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Jan 10th, 2016, 05:01 PM
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Sandralist
Thanks for your response.
How many days woukd you allow for San Sebastián? I'm rethinking my itinerary and now plan on going straight to San Sebastián from the Loire Valley. I have 9 days to work with before going to Paris for 4 days. I also want to spend a few days in the inland Pays Basque area.
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Jan 11th, 2016, 03:05 PM
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Again, my main reason for going to San Sebastian would be to eat. There is of course the delightful view and the beach (if it isn't raining) and if you will have a car while there, gorgeous coastal drives and nice seaside lunch destinations. But I love the pintxos scene in Sebastian, so I would want more than 2 nights of that, maybe as much as 4. If I had five, I might actually go to one of the famous restaurants for lunch one day. I am generally a person who travels for museums, churches, ruins, etc, but I have found very little of that in the San Sebastian area. So how long you spend there depends on your tolerance for having "just" a pretty view and fun food. If you want more varied rewards out of a trip to Europe, you might want to allocate the days accordingly.
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Jan 11th, 2016, 10:48 PM
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Commenting only on the section I know, it depends on what you want to do on your trip, but Cauterets is gorgeous, with lots of good walking. Hard to get directly into Spain except on foot, so if you were thinking of using it as a base to go south for a day trip, you might be better in St Lary Soulon (which is fair bit more touristy) or Borce.

I like Biarritz- at least the coast there- and I've not been st San Sebastien, but I have chums who go regularly, and I think I'd pick it over Biarritz for a three day stop over.

The weather will be fine. At least, to the extent that anything can be guarantee in the mountains.
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Jan 13th, 2016, 06:28 PM
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Thanks everyone for your replies.
I've decided it's better to enjoy where you are than try to cram too much in to one trip. So, the Haute Pyrenees will have to wait till another trip, hopefully next year.
We will spend 4 nights in the Loire Valley (apartment in Blois), then take the train to Hendaye and transferring to San Sebastián.
We'll spend 5 nights in San Sebastián (apartment). It's all about the food!
We will then make our way to Bidarray in Pays Basque (Auberge Ostape) for 4 nights. Look forward to relaxing, enjoying the scenery and going on day hikes in the area. Also, visiting a couple of the villages in the area.
Then, drive to Bordeaux and return rental car. Train to Paris for 4 nights (apartment).

Would appreciate any feedback on experiences in the Basque Country.
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Jan 13th, 2016, 08:24 PM
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Do you have my Pays Basque itinerary???? If not, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll send you one.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 14th, 2016, 04:06 AM
  #11
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Thanks Stu!
Yes, you sent it to me a few months ago. I need to study it again.
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