Planning Your Time

Traveling west to east, with the sun behind you as the shadows lengthen, is the best way to approach this part of the Pyrénées. Bayonne is the natural starting point, at the mouth of the Atlantic Pyrenean watershed, with the Basque Museum as an instructive primer for the culture of the villages you are about to go through. Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz offer opportunities for beach time and glamour. The picturesque villages of Sare and Ainhoa guide you into the mountains and valleys, threaded by rivers flowing into the Nive. St-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a Pyrenean hub from which Eugénie-les-Bains is a short detour before continuing east to Pau, the Hautes-Pyrénées, and their crowning glory, Gavarnie.

Wherever you head, take your time: this region's proximity to Spain comes to life in its architecture, in the expressive Midi accent, which turns the word demain (tomorrow) into "demaing," and the slow-paced lifestyle.

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