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Basque Country Tour

We are thinking about taking the RS Basque Country tour after Paris and the Heart of France next year. I have a couple of questions. 1). Is it easier to fly or take the train from Paris to Bayonne? 2). We are wondering about the hike on the Camino de Santiago trail....how many miles, difficulty of the terrain, etc.

We have taken 6 previous RS tours and are familiar with the amount of walking involved, but are wondering if this hike will be a bit too much for us.

Posted by
3580 posts

I took the tour last year. The train from Paris to Bayonne took about 6 hours, I think. I didn't check into flying into Biarritz. If you did fly you would need to take a train (I think) to Bayonne which would add time to your trip. I always think the train is easier than flying except for very long trips. To me 6 hours on a train beats getting to the airport, flying, getting from airport to wherever..... I bought my ticket in advance and saved money. I don't remember what it cost.

We walked just 2 or 3 miles on the trail. The first part was downhill over rocks, then it was mostly level. We got rained and hailed on. It was all part of the experience. We came to a village where we stopped at a hostel and had drinks, snacks. Some walked on from there. I had a bad knee so just did the first part. I think I walked about an hour. The others walked another 45 minutes or so. One woman stayed on the bus; she was recovering from knee surgery. We went to a winery and had a wonderful lunch later. It was a great experience getting to see and walk part of "the way." If you walk regularly the path should not be difficult; it is not heavy-duty trekking!

Posted by
3580 posts

I took the tour last year. The train from Paris to Bayonne took about 6 hours, I think. I didn't check into flying into Biarritz. If you did fly you would need to take a train (I think) to Bayonne which would add time to your trip. I always think the train is easier than flying except for very long trips. To me 6 hours on a train beats getting to the airport, flying, getting from airport to wherever..... I bought my ticket in advance and saved money. I don't remember what it cost.

We walked just a few miles on the trail. The first part was downhill over rocks, then it was mostly level. We got rained and hailed on. It was all part of the experience. We came to a village where we stopped at a hostel and had drinks, snacks. Some walked on from there. I had a bad knee so just did the first part. I think I walked about an hour. The others walked another 45 minutes or so. One woman stayed on the bus; she was recovering from knee surgery. We went to a winery and had a wonderful lunch later. It was a great experience getting to see and walk part of "the way." If you walk regularly the path should not be difficult; it is not heavy-duty trekking!

Posted by
295 posts

It's easy to take the train or find flights from Paris to Bayonne. The Camino de Santiago walk is on a wide, mostly flat dirt trail. At most, you will probably walk a couple of miles, with a leisurely stop for wine tasting and lunch in the middle. People can walk the trail at their own pace, or even take the tour bus instead if they don't feel up to walking. Compared with many of of our city walking tours, the pace of the Camino walk is laid back and less strenuous.

Posted by
210 posts

Did the tour last year. I flew into Paris…..short flight to Bordeaux……took a train to Bayonne. If you flew from Paris you would have to fly into Biarritz. Then you would have to take a bus into Bayonne. It was cheaper for me taking the train from Bordeaux. (I know that you were talking about a train from Paris……just an FWIW). The bus connections to Bayonne from Biarritz are easy. I enjoyed seeing the countryside via the train.

The hike was great fun. Your pace. I remembered it being about 4 miles long. It was a hot (June) afternoon……hat, sunscreen, and water needed. Little shade. As already mentioned there is a rest stop in a small village about half way if you choose to sit and have something to eat/drink (you will). The first part (1/3) of the hike is kind of down hill and a little rocky (ankle rolling terrain). The last 2/3 was mostly flat……dirt path. I found it all very do-able……just the first part was a wee bit rocky.

And yes, the air conditioned bus is waiting as is a great meal and wine at a nearby winery.

Got to meet and talk to several Pilgrims on the hike. Very interesting!

The food is AWESOME on this tour. The Basque region has a very unique culture and history. I have been on 9 tours……this is a "hidden gem".

Posted by
350 posts

I flew from Paris to Biarritz and then took the bus to Bayonne. It was easy and saved us a lot of time which we were able to use wandering about in Bayonne which is a very nice city.

The 'hike' along the Camino de Santiago is more like a long walk. If you can walk a few miles along a dirt road you will be fine. The whole thing took maybe 3 hours including stops at a few churches. It was interesting because it gave us an idea of what the country was like.

The tour itself is great and you will see an area of Spain that many Americans never see. And you will get some exposure to the Basque culture which is quite interesting. When I was there the queen of Spain was visiting a few blocks from our hotel. Not one Spanish flag could be seen anywhere in the area. Not a one. Oh, the food is fabulous!