5 nature holiday ideas in Biarritz-Basque Country

Biarritz-Basque Country is a destination of choice for travellers who enjoy the good life. Located in Nouvelle Aquitaine in the south west of France, Biarritz-Basque Country has a strong identity and its inhabitants are proud and attached to their traditions. Combining the seaside with the mountains, the area has countless natural assets, as well as renowned seaside resorts such as Biarritz and emblematic villages like Espelette. A paradise for nature lovers who want to experience the great outdoors.

Surf the legendary waves of Biarritz

In 1956, screenwriter Peter Viertel, best known as the husband of actress Deborah Kerr, wrote the film adaptation of Fiesta, the best-selling novel by his friend Ernest Hemingway. A year later, Viertel travelled to Biarritz (External link) to shoot the film, taking his surfboard with him and leaving the locals speechless as they saw a man riding a wave for the first time. And so surfing was born in Biarritz!

The Basque Coast is a real paradise for surfers of all levels because of the quality of its waves and the immense spectacle that its coastline offers. The fine sandy beaches of Anglet, the reefs of Bidart and Guéthary, and the pro spots of Avalanche and Belharra - famous for its XXL surf - host numerous events, festivals and competitions.

Climb the Pyrenees' #1 summit

From the sea to the first summit of the Pyrenees in less than an hour? You can do it by climbing La Rhune, at an altitude of just over 900 metres. An ideal activity if you want a change of scene and panoramic views of the Pyrenees and the Bay of Biscay, on the border with Spain. The excursion can be made on foot or by taking the Petit Train de La Rhune, one of the few cogwheel trains in France. It was created in 1924 and connects the Col de Saint-Ignace to the summit on a 40-minute, delightfully bucolic journey. During the ascent, you'll spot mountain wildlife such as the famous pottoks (free-roaming Basque ponies), wild vultures and Manech sheep.

Walk the Coast Path

A great option for those who like hiking (External link) and beautiful landscapes is to take the path that connects the French town of Bidart to San Sebastian in Spain. As this route is 54 kilometres long, it's recommended to do it in several stages to discover the whole coast of Biarritz-Basque Country.

The trail passes through coastal villages and offers hikers magnificent scenery, such as the chapel of Santa Magdalena, the beaches of Cenitz and Lafitenia, the Abaddia estate and its strange chateau, as well as views of the bay from the point of Santa Barbara.

Explore the Kakuetta Gorges

Located in Sainte-Engrâce, the Kakuetta Gorges are a unique natural area with lush vegetation and turquoise waters. This two-hour return itinerary begins with the crossing of the 'Grand Étroit', a grandiose passage that opens onto the canyon, which varies in width from three to 10 metres, with a depth that can exceed 200 metres in certain sections. The path follows the river through dense vegetation and ends at a 20-metre waterfall with a cave full of giant stalactites and stalagmites.

Birdwatch in the Iraty Forest

The Organbidexka Pass in the Atlantic Pyrenees is an exceptional site for birdwatchers, as it's a stopover for a large number of migratory birds. It's located in the Iraty Forest, the second largest and best preserved beech and fir forest in Europe, after the Black Forest in Germany. Many couples come to enjoy the real change of scenery at the Chalets d'Iraty, a village of 35 wooden chalets and three hotel rooms on the edge of this magnificent forest, which changes colour with the seasons.

Biarritz-Basque Country