Has anyone driven from Toulouse and/or Bordeaux into the Basque Country? I have about 6 days to do one or the other before my Paris stay so I would like to know which route would be best for "off the beaten track" experiences, beauty, quaint villages/auberge, and overall driveability. I've never been outside Paris, so if my 6 days should be spent elsewhere in the country altogether, please educate me! Thanks, JSF
Do you want to stay in France, go straight to Spain, or mix it up?
We just spent 4 nights in Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the Basque region of France. From there we did day trips to Bayonne, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, San Sebastian (parking can be a challenge but we did have a fantastic tapas lunch that was worth the hassle); and drove through some lovely Basque villages - Sare, Ainhoa, and Ezpeleta. The food was good - especially the Gateau Basque (cake) filled with dark cherries. We skipped Biarritz, Pamplona, and Bilbao this trip but those are easy day trips or overnight stops as well. You can easily drive south from Bordeaux (we flew into Bordeaux and drove south and east toward Sarlat and spent 6 nights - then on to the Basque region.) Having a GPS is invaluable!
Great tips, Sharon, thanks.
Jody, the Rick Steves' France book has a chapter titled "Basque Country" that would be helpful for planning. We really enjoyed our time in that region.
A very interesting place you could visit is Lourdes. We are not Catholic at all but stopped here on our way from Toulouse headed back down to the French coast because we were curious. Although I've visited many pilgrimage sites in Europe and Asia, this one takes the cake! A whole industry has grown up around the grotto, and the grounds and town surrounding it are quite hard to believe. The numbers of people hoping for a miracle, the processions through town and through the grounds, the chapels, the candles, the volunteers helping...it's quite a sight! I think it might be a bit out of your way but it's not that far (some people might disagree with this but I don't mind a bit of a drive to see something interesting!) and it's worth seeing. It's at the base of the Pyrenees mountains which are worth a look as well - very beautiful!
Have a great trip!
Thanks Anita, guess I need an extra couple of days - sounds interesting!
We recently spent a week in the French Basque region, having driven there from Bordeaux, and there's info about the area in my blog. Here's the link to my first post about the Bordeaux to Basque part; there are then several more posts following that covering the week we spent in the Basque region.