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This is an ideal, short day-trip that will allow you to see one of the most beautiful places within the Basque Country without having to drive too far. San Sebastian is about a one-hour drive from Biarritz, so leave early in the morning to arrive in time to see the fishermen bring in their fresh fish, then enjoy some delicious pinxtos – the local tapas-like snack.
Take advantage of your time in the Basque region to make your way up to Bordeaux, the capital of the Aquitaine region. When leaving Biarritz, pause for a hot-water treatment in Dax, which is internationally known for its excellent thermal centres. Afterwards, drive alongside the Gers, a small part of the Occitanie Region, famous for its liquors and spirits. Pass through Agen (get out of the car to walk across the Pont Canal, which is France’s second-longest bridge) and stop in the Dordogne valley for the weekend, a place laden with history. Among the most famous sites in the area are the Lascaux Caves, a wonderful way to learn more about prehistoric art. Venture a little further south and you’ll arrive in Sarlat-la-Canéda, a charming town with picturesque streets and a renowned gastronomic market.
Once you get to Blaye, take your car on the ferry for €15 (sign up for the La Blaye-Lamarque journey) and admire the beauty of the Estuaire de la Gironde. You’ll arrive in Médoc, home of some of the most prestigious wines in the world. Take the ‘Route des Châteaux’ (Castles Road), where you’ll come across over one hundred wine properties. If you’ve planned some wine tasting along the way, then it’s book to night at Le Domaine du Papillon, an exceptional guest house located in Lesparre-Médoc.
In the morning, it’s an easy drive to Bordeaux, which has plenty of activities to choose from. If you’re thinking of staying for a few days and your car rental company allows it, then it’s worth dropping your car off in Bordeaux, as you won’t need it much – the city is bike-friendly and all the major attractions are accessible via public transport. Thus, you can use the money you saved to treat yourself to one of the best restaurants in town.
Do you like surfing? If so, Biarritz allows for trips full of dream-like beaches, amazing landscapes and outdoor camping. Start your journey in Hendaye (only 40 minutes from Biarritz) and schedule surf sessions at each spot within the area. After stopping at the beach in Hendaye, head to Saint-Jean-de-Luz and stay for a few days. The city is famous for its incredible surfing spots in Cenitz, Lafitenia and (every experienced surfer’s dream) the Bellhara Reef break. Next drop by Les Alcyons Beach in Guethary, a cool spot to surf and hang out after a session.
Once back in Biarritz, ride the waves at La Grande Plage and La Côte des Basques Beach. Just a few minutes away lies the VVF Beach (also known as La Chambre d’Amour, which means ‘the love room’). In the evening chill out by the sea and recover before your last stop. If you get an adrenaline rush, drive up to Soorts-Hossegor and defy the ocean at La Gravière Beach – though keep in mind that only very experienced surfers should venture here. After your last set, look for the Mango Tree food truck for an excellent brunch cooked with fresh products.
One of the best assets of Biarritz is that you can visit the city at any time of the year and still have a great time. In the summer it’s a constant hustle and bustle, while in the winter there’s a more quiet, relaxed city atmosphere. Whatever the season, it’s worth planning a road trip to the Pyrenees. This region is a true hiking heaven and will delight nature lovers. Gavarnie, Cauterets, and Bagnères-de Bigorre are some of the towns you’ll drive through that will make your jaw drop. Also, do not miss the opportunity to go to Lourdes, one of the world’s most popular pilgrimage sites and France’s second most-visited city.
Opt for an alternative road that will take you along the Atlantic Coast and its breathtaking sites. After leaving the Port-Vieux neighbourhood, go down Saint-de-Luz, where you will be mesmerised by the 17th- and 18th-century architecture and the famous Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church. Continue until Saint Sebastian, where you can stop for lunch and a quick stroll around the Old Town. Leave around 5pm to be in Bilbao in the early evening. Stay for the night and in the morning have a hearty breakfast before you hit the sights. Complete your visit to Bilbao by stopping by the Guggenheim Museum, a stunning, internationally acclaimed venue dedicated to modern art.