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Basque Country Coast and Rural

09-cycling-tour-basque-countryOn this tour, we’ll be exploring a very special place; Basque country, a region whose culture can’t be contained by borders, it’s part of both France and Spain! Blessed with an abundance of varied topography, our tour will allow you to enjoy coastal beaches and sky-touching mountains while not requiring you to be a champion climber.

Beginning and ending in Biarritz, France, the tour takes us into popular coastal resort towns (Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Hondarribia, Bidart) and sleepy interior villages (Ainhoa, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and Espelette). Along the way, we’ll encounter Gothic cathedrals dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, as well as protected heritage sites and the very special town of St. Jean Pied de Port; the jumping off point for the El Camino.

We’ll enjoy the Basque region’s amazing gastronomic temptations while lodging each night in either 3-star hotels or local guesthouses. The short daily rides make this an ideal bicycle tour for all riding levels from athletic beginner on up.

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Basque Country Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Biarritz (Saturday, September 24th)

Biarritz BeachesThe earlier you arrive the more time you’ll have to enjoy this popular seaside resort. Located on the Bay of Biscay, just above the border with Spain, Biarritz boasts a show-stopping coastline. The city’s largest beach, La Grande Plage, is one of the greatest surfing beaches in the world, making it perfect for relaxing and people watching. The Russian Orthodox Church and St. Martin’s Church (built in 12th century) are architectural icons. And, like any good seaside resort, Biarritz offers plenty of restaurants and cafés. There is no ride this day.

Overnight at Hotel George VI – Dinner included

Day 2: Biarritz — Hondarribia (18 miles)

hondarribia-guipuzkoaWe’ll ease into the riding portion of our tour with a relatively short ride along the Basque region’s famed coast. Pedaling south, we’ll wheel through Bidart, a small cliff-top village overlooking the bay, and then, eventually, into Saint-Jean-de-Luz. This scenic resort town is popular with vacationers, thanks to its protected sandy shore, but it also doubles as an art colony.

Further down the coast you’ll reach Hendaye, site of the famous “Great Cross of Hendaye,” and take a short river shuttle across the Bidassoa River to Hondarribia, Spain. This fortified city, our home for the night, is a classified Historic and Artistic Monument. And as an added bonus, Hondarribia is world-recognized for its gastronomic offerings.

Overnight at Hotel Jauregui – Dinner on your own.

Day 3: Hondarribia — Ainhoa (24 miles)

LaRhuneToday we’ll cross back into Hendaye and begin pedaling into interior Basque country. Just beyond the village of Ascain, we’ll board a train (the Train de la Rhune) for a round trip ride to the peak of La Rhune, the Basque region’s highest point (2,969 feet). Stone circles and Neolithic monuments dot La Rhune’s summit, adding weight to mythical status assigned to it by locals. The views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding Pyrenees are the kind you’ll want to frame and stare at longingly every day. A point of local interest for me is that the Train de la Rhune was built by the same people who built the Mt Washington Cog Railway and they look very much the same.

Once off the train and reunited with our bikes, we’ll pedal into Sare, a picturesque hilltop village, before continuing on to Zugarramurdi, the village of witches. In the 17th century, approximately 50 of its residents were tried for witchcraft. The village fully embraces its somber past. You can visit Zugarramurdi’s Withcraft Museum and a nearby cave where the witches allegedly gathered. From here we’ll cycle into Ainhoa, one of France’s classified “most beautiful villages.” Half-timbered homes with window shutters painted red and green — the colors of the Basque flag — line Ainhoa’s main street. The 13th Century Ainhoa Church and its neighboring ancient cemetery are both main attractions.

Overnight at La Maison Oppoca – Dinner included

Day 4: Ainhoa — Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (28 miles)

st-jean-train-stationToday’s ride begins with a 5.6-kilometer climb up Col de Pinodieta (577 feet). It never gets very steep and can be managed slowly and steadily at a low gear. After snapping photos at the top, we’ll glide into the market town of Espelette, famous for its dried red peppers and small wild horses, or pottocks, which roam the surrounding hillsides.

We’ll then meet up with the Nive River and follow its winding path along quiet, rural roads through the green folds of the Pyrenees Mountains. This portion of the ride is pure Basque country — remote and timeless. At night we’ll lodge very close to the Spanish border in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. This sleepy village is the starting point for Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), one of the largest Christian pilgrimages (most popular during the Middle Ages). Christian pilgrims still annually flock to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to make the journey. The village’s city gate is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Overnight: we will be split between place – The guesthouse Gure Lana and Hotel Itzalpea – Dinner on our own

Day 5: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port — Cambo-les-Bains (25 miles)

BasqueCountryWe’ll enjoy a scenic ride over a timeless landscape of rolling green hills checkered with thick forests and ancient family farms. We’ll pass through tiny pastoral villages — Ispourre, Irrisarry, Helette, Mendionde — full of Old World ambiance, ideal for exploring. The rural nature of this ride makes it perfect for carefree bicycling.

We’ll overnight in either Cambo-les-Bains or Itxassou. These villages share a border, allowing for easy access to Villa Arnaga. Once the home of Edmond Rostand, author of Cyrano de Bergerac, it is now a heritage site highlighted by an elaborate French-style garden adorned with pools, flowers, manicured trees, flowers, gravel paths, flowers and more flowers.

Overnight at Hotel Ursula – Dinner included

Day 6: Cambo-les-Bains — Biarritz (28 miles)

Return Bayoneto the coast on today’s ride. We’ll pass through the red-shuttered village of Ustaritz before reaching
. Attractions abound in this historic city that dates back to the third century when it was part of the Roman Empire. The Gothic Sainte-Marie Cathedral, built in the 12th century, will make your jaw drop. It’s one of those cathedrals whose interior competes with its exterior for top mind-blowing honors. Château-Vieux, another 12th century marvel, is worth a look as well.

In Bayonne and is pedestrian only city center, we’ll be able to enjoy some of the area’s spectacular cuisine. From here, we’ll ride into Anglet, a city that takes immense pride in its flower displays, and then continue into Biarritz. We’ll follow the scenic Anglet Coast featuring 11 beaches, each one more inviting than the last. Then we’ll have our final night of your Basque bicycle tour where it began, in Biarritz.

Overnight at Hotel George VI – Dinner included

Day 7: Departure (Friday, September 30th)

After breakfast, depart for other places or stay on and enjoy Biarritz, Anglet and Bayonne.

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Ride Dates:

Saturday, September 24th – Friday, September 30th (7 days/6 nights)

Pricing:

  • $1800 per person double occupancy
  • Single supplement is $415

Price includes:

  • Hybrid bikes suitable for this kind of travel (Helmet is included too)
  • 6 nights’ accommodation (3-star hotels and guesthouses of character)
  • Daily breakfast
  • 4 dinners (drinks are not included)
  • Luggage transfers
  • River shuttle (Hendaye-Hondarribia)
  • Marked maps and/or cue sheets and route notes
  • Tourist information
  • Assistance if necessary (you will be provided with our local rep’s mobile number)
  • All tax and service charges

Prices does not include:

  • Personal expenses
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses related to getting to Biarritz including airfare and transfer to/from airport and/or train station to Biarritz

Special Notes

  • Rider limit is 12 people.
  • If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will match you up with another rider (same sex). In the event that we have an odd number of solo travelers, the resulting single supplement(s) will be shared between all participants.
  • Please review our cancellation policy and travel insurance sections

Questions?

For more information or any questions you might have, please contact bruce@cyclema.com