To this day, crazy adventures fill me brim with joy and travelling the world with someone who shares my dreams and supports my growth is definitely one of them. Although our trip to France wasn’t really a crazy adventure, it was a very fulfilling trip, and it was something we planned and prepared for.
The magnificent stretch of the Basque coast that curves from one charming fishing village to another one and brings glimpses of the glistering ocean – the kind you can rest your eyes upon for hours had us excited for returning to France.
We started off by renting an automatic from Hertz situated at Biarritz Airport followed by a few days in Biarritz, then headed out to explore nearby villages and towns, Bayonne, Hossegor and Capbreton including.
Road trip details & essentials
This blog post covers a road trip where we drove from Biarritz to Bayonne, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Capbreton and Hossegor.
Rather than bomb through the area in a couple of days, we dedicated 10 full days to allow us to slowly cherish its charming towns and peaceful pine forests. Our road trip was full of new and fun experiences we are eager to share with you.
If you are looking for a fantastic road trip with fun itinerary ideas around France then Our Crossings has you covered – just browse through this post and learn about the most popular attractions in each place.
• Car Rental | At first, it didn’t make sense to rent a car at Biarritz Airport – just so we can finally visit towns that are located in such short proximity of Biarritz. But after our efforts to find public transport on Sunday that was our departure day back to Ireland failed we opted to hire one after all.
We decided to spend five days relaxing in Biarritz town and to pick up our rental when we were due to check out, this way avoiding unnecessary rental and parking fees.
Renting a car and driving around the Basque region is pretty much straightforward. You’ll find plenty of car rental companies at the airport and the roads are well marked.
• When to go | The best time to visit Europe would be from May to October – this weather frame offers pleasant temperatures and limited rainfall – with June and September being the warmest and driest month.
- Duration: seven to ten days
- Route Lenght: 110 kilometres
- Driving Time: 2-3 hours
- Start: Biarritz – Anglet – Bayonne Airport
- Stops: Biarritz, Bayonne, Capbreton, Hossegor
- Finish: Biarritz – Anglet – Bayonne Airport
#1. Start off by exploring Biarritz
Our first fortnight was in Biarritz, and if you ask me, Biarritz was fantastic. But fantastic hardly sums up all the things we had a chance to experience.
Though the town’s reputation has often been illustrated as a place for wealthy aristocrats and trademarked by the passage of Napoleon III, Biarritz lovingly endorses voyagers with varied life stories.
Guys with low maintenance haircuts and surfboards under their arms keep the town young and fluidly blend with fast speeding Maserati cars and new shops selling Chanel and vintage Hermès mixed with gritty residential areas.
Top things to do in Biarritz
• Visit Biarritz Lighthouse | This beautiful lighthouse built on such a perilous edge, awash with perfectly curled waves has been greeting local fishermen since 1834. A visit to Biarritz Lighthouse where for a small fee you can climb to the very top of it to enjoy incredible views from a different vantage point over the city, and surrounding coastline is well worth the effort.
• Learn to Surf | If you are visiting Biarritz which is known as surfing paradise and if you wish to feel the power of the ocean under your feet while having heaps of fun, sign up for a surfing lesson at one of the surf schools and get advice from people who know what they are doing. Learning to surf is a time-consuming process, but once you know the basic technique, you can start practising.
• Explore its markets | Stop at L’Ecaillerie and join the queue for a glass of wine and their famous oysters or other shellfish coming straight from the Bay of Bisque. Or, pop into another part of the Las Halles market for fresh bread and cheeses. You can also try Izarra – a liquor drink made of 16 herbs – which is a very “Green” but traditional Basque drink that has a peppermint taste.
#2. Travel to Saint-Jean-de-Luz
Combing through the old photos always makes me itch for new places and even though we have a terrible tendency to go back to the same cities, we always add nearby villages and towns we haven’t visited before.
Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a lovely fishing village located at the mouth of Niavelle River, just 18km from Biarritz, and given its beauty, it was an easy decision to incorporate a visit to this charming seaside town where macaroons are the most typical sweets.
Situated on the French Atlantic coast, Saint-Jean-de-Luz offers pretty beaches, heaps of history and a beautiful old quarter. As the village is located only 10km from the Spanish border, it makes for a great day trip if you are on holiday in San Sebastian.
While there were quite a lot of similarities when compared to Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a much more relaxed and family-oriented place where you can celebrate special moments, big or small.
Top things to do in Saint-Jean-de-Luz
• Old town | Walk around the old town and admire beautiful half-timbered houses built by wealthy merchants and shipowners. Feast your eyes on romantic windows, gauzy blinds and try to imagine what life was here back in the 17th century when Saint Jean de Luz was the centre for Basque corsairs.
• Beaches | One of the towns main attractions is its beautiful beaches. They are clean, wide and perfect for families with young children. Go for a walk along the Promenade and take in the views of the crescent-shaped bay and pretty houses.
• Rue Gambetta | The main pedestrian street in town is filled with shops selling local produce, sweets and chocolates.
• Port | Make your way to the Port which was once Frances largest and see the fishing boats coming and going. For great quality fish and seafood restaurants look no further than little streets surrounding the Port.
• Church of St. John Baptist | Located on Rue Gambetta, the Church of St. John Baptist is one of the critical and visually striking places to visit in town. This is where the royal wedding between Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain took place back in 1660.
#3. Wander around Bayonne
Bayonne, situated at the northernmost point of the French Basque Country, is a city that feels more like a large town. A large and colourful and welcoming town infamous for Bayonne ham and chocolatiers.
With the afternoon sun finally shining, we eagerly started exploring the capital of the French Basque Country. If this is your first time in Bayonne, make sure you stop at the Tourist information bureau to pick up a few maps and tips.
Top things to do in Bayonne
• Sainte Marie Cathedral | Given that it’s a UNESCO site, it should not come as a surprise that this was the most beautiful place we had a chance to visit in Bayonne. The imposing spires reaching high up in the cloudy spring sky as we approached through one of the narrow streets left us feeling intense excitement.
• Château-Vieux | Not too far from the cathedral is Château-Vieux (“Old Castle”). Although this place isn’t open to the public, you can still view it from outside just to see what a former residence for the governors of the city looks like.
• Les Halles | Discover local produce that Bayonne has to offer by visiting the Less Halles market. Here, under one roof you’ll find fish, meat and tasty gâteau Basque (“Basque cake”). Make sure you visit early on a day because the markets close around 1.30 pm.
• Jardin Botanique | Located next to a tourism office is Bayonne’s botanical gardens – relatively small yet beautifully laid out and perfect if you need a few minutes of rest. Admission to the Jardin Botanique is free of charge, and here you’ll find a lovely Japanese garden as well as a children’s playground.
• Basque Museum | Located in a 16th-century townhouse, Basque Museum Bayonne is a great place to learn about its culture and traditions from its 3,000 exhibits.
#4. Relax at Capbreton
Upon our arrival in Capbreton, that’s situated in the Landes department, clouds blew through to reveal a beautiful sunset. The soft colours of the sunset are always amazing and provide an opportunity to appreciate the coastline in a new light.
From its seaside allure, with semi-submerged second world war bunkers and traditional fish markets, there’s also the barrelling waves of La Piste and a very photogenic wooden pier that was built by the orders of Napoleon III.
When it comes to sightseeing, in Capbreton you won’t find big tourist attractions. Instead, it’s a place where you can relax and appreciate those little things in life.
Top things to do in Capbreton
• Go surfing | For experienced surfers – to make most of your surf session, get advice from the locals. For learners & beginners- rent your board from a qualified surf school and learn to catch your first waves under supervision.
• Sign up for yoga | Reward yourself with a relaxing yoga session to improve your flexibility and balance and increase your muscle strength. Yoga is a great activity for your whole body and it’s one of the ways to improve your health.
• Go cycling | Stretch your legs and enjoy the beautiful landscape while biking through one of many cycling paths around Capbreton. While cycling is yet another great way to keep fit, one of its benefits also includes improved mental well-being. So, rent a bike, spend some quality time outdoors and see the world from a different perspective.
#5. Unwind in Hossegor
Hossegor, a beautiful beach resort only 30 km from Biarritz is a world-renewed surfing mecca and the towns main attraction for locals and visitors alike is surfing.
Divided into three areas – La Centrale and the beachfront, Hossegor town and the lake and Soorts-Hossegor and a commercial zone about 4 km inland – Hossegor can easily become your favourite town. Think – French bakeries with amazing pastries, plenty of surf shops, fantastic bike paths and surf events.
Hossegor’s well-earned reputation among the worlds best surfers brings them together on Quicksilver Pro France where spectators can rub shoulders with the world’s surfing elite.
Top things to in Hossegor
• Surf | Hossegor in France isn’t known as a surfing mecca for nothing. Wherever you go on the coast which is known for being the longest uninterrupted stretch of sandy beach in Europe, you’ll find fantastic surf spots suited for beginners and more experienced surfers. For beginners – Les Estagnots and Les Bourdaines offer easy access and plenty of equipment rentals, for advanced – check out La Nord or La Gravière.
• Shop | Stroll through the town centre along the Avenue Paul Lahary and Avenue du Touring Club, and you’ll find Billabong, Quicksilver and other famous surf brand outlets selling the latest fashion trends and surfboards. Check out Collective Soul, located on 93 Avenue des Tisserands in Soorts-Hossegor for decorations, vintage and upcycling.
• Bike | For non-surfers biking is a fantastic way to explore the area. In Hossegor, you can rent a Fat Bike or even an electric bike for very fair prices and discover the beauty of the Landes region.
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Now, over to you!
Have you been to Hossegor or Capbreton? Let us know in the comments!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Hossegor or Capbreton and have travel-related questions!