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Recommendations for tour activities prior to the Basque Tour post El Camino Walk to Santiago

Hello,

I have a window of 4 days before starting the Basque tour. I was thinking of going to Lourdes - and looking for other activities. I am totally unfamiliar with southwestern France. I would love some recommendations.

I looked at the recommended options of St Jean de Luz and Biaritz, but could not get excited from descriptions in the guide books.

I forgot to mention that I am traveling solo and I am finishing the El Camino walk in Santiago. I have looked at Salamanca and Segovia , they seem to offer more opportunities, but looks like I will be taking lots of forms of transportation to get to and from the locations.

Looking for input on this direction?

Thank you, Terry

Posted by
283 posts

You have quite a few choices. Lourdes is beautiful and can easily be combined with Pau. If the weather is good, there are a plethora of great hikes from these towns. Another choice might be Saint Jean de Luz and Biarritz on the Atlantic. Both beautiful. Or you could spend a few days in the charming city of Bordeaux then take the train to Bayonne to start your tour. Lots of options!

Posted by
2234 posts

We did this tour in May and had a couple of days before the tour started. Following the guidebook suggestions, we took the bus (easy) to Biarritz. The weather was chilly, although some were swimming, so that may have colored our impression. We were underwhelmed. However, another couple on the tour actually went twice because they liked it so much. Since you have four days, I would either opt for Lourdes or Bordeaux. We were really impressed with transportation options in southwest France.

Posted by
6808 posts

If you will have walked the French Camino it makes no sense to take the Basque tour since much of it will be places you saw while walking. If you walked a different Camino then disregard my statement.

If you did walk a different Camino (Portuguese, Primitive, etc.) then León and Burgos are nice stops.

In addition to the places you mentioned, Lugo is nice for a full day. To me, Lourdes is good for a few hours. I wouldn’t want to stay in any of the mentioned locations for four days.

Posted by
272 posts

We walked the camino from Pamplona to Santiago 5 years ago and took the RS Basque tour this year. The tour and the camino were both fantastic (and different) experiences. The overlap is 1/2 day of walking on the tour which was again a different experience having a local guide. .

Posted by
9042 posts

I hope you are planning on spending a couple of days in Santiago after finishing your Camino, as there is a lot to see there. You can also go on day long bus tours to Muxia and Finesttera which are fun too.

Posted by
1136 posts

We did the Basque tour last year and were already exploring other parts of Spain for 2 weeks before the tour. We really wanted to see some parts of southwest France, particularly the cave paintings. Immediately before the tour, we went to Bordeaux, spent a night there and then went to Sarlat for 2 nights with a stop at St Emilion on the way there. From Sarlat, we went directly to Bayonne on the day the tour started. There were 5 of us so we had the luxury of splitting a private guide/driver for that whole time. It was a definite highlight of our trip!

We did have a free afternoon in Bayonne on the tour so we took the bus to Biarritz. We spent about 3 hours there and felt that was enough time there.

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you all for your input.......I am having a hard time deciding, but realize I cannot make train and bus reservations until 60 days before the trip, so I have some leeway.

I do understand the Spanish language, but can not speak fluently. I do not have any exposure to the French language. Would I have difficulty getting around in France?

Posted by
2234 posts

We had to buy same-day train tickets from Hendaye to Bayonne. We had been in Spain for 2+ weeks, so making the language switch wasn’t coming easily. A nice lady who wasn’t there to do tickets saw us struggling and came over to show us how to use the automatic machine. Everyone in the area we covered was very nice and we never had a problem finding our way or figuring out where to go. We had the same experience in Bordeaux the year before.

We’ve had no trouble figuring out how to use the transportation system in France. If you’ve already been traveling, the systems become intuitive after awhile. In Bayonne and Bordeaux we bought day passes just to save on stress. We got lost one day in Bayonne and ended up getting help from some guys that spoke Spanish - I think being that close to the boarder means more options.