At home in the Basque Country: 1 home, 2 countries, 3 cultures!

Small group escorted stay in the Basque country in Saint Jean de Luz
12 to 16 guests -Saturday to Saturday June 13 to 20, 2015

Designed for:
Solo travellers, friends and couples who value the confort of an escorted trip. Share  a week with like-minded individuals, out of a strategically located high-end mansion on the Atlantic coast, in Southwest France, right by the Spanish border.  The trip is meant to be a bouquet of French, Basque,Spanish cultural experiences and explorations as we hop back and forth between the two countries to enjoy its riches. Bring along your love for culture, food and people to make the best of this trip. Your Host, Evelyne Dufau, founder of Expérience Authentique, is delighted to share her passion for her birth region.

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Day by day itinerary:

Download the pdf of the itinerary appearing below: At home in the Basque Country June 2015

Map to locate the Basque countryDay 1: Saturday June 13 – Settle in your French home on the Basque coast

  • Get acquainted to your surroundings while staying at a luxurious mansion  on the Atlantic coast with quaint St Jean de Luz under easy walking distance. Welcome dinner at the mansion by local chef, your home for the next 7 days. 

Day 2: Sunday  – Make St Jean de Luz … yours!

  • Make St Jean de Luz your own further to a guided walking  tour to gain insight on the rich history of this Basque town that hosted Louis XIV wedding. Walk through the fishing harbour, the beach and its shell shaped bay, market and trendy boutiques. Sip an aperitif at the main square over live music with locals enjoying their Sunday traditions. In the PM, choose between A) some biking along the scenic coast on a dedicated biking path or B) a leisurely afternoon relaxing in the thalassotherapy center set by the beach with access to indoor warm salty sea-water pools to soak in ( the center also offers add-on treatments, at an extra-cost, that exploit the virtues of seawater, seaweed and other marine by-products to enhance the wellbeing of both men and women). Shoppers in the party enjoy a fine selection of boutiques in town.
  • Optional pre-dinner hatha yoga by the ocean, accessible to everyone and for all levels if enough interest.

 Day 3: Monday  – Market day and the Basque country side

  • It is market day in St Jean Pied de Port, a basque town set in the Pyrénées foothills,  known as the starting point of the 30 day pilgrimage walk to St James of Compostela, all the way to Spain.  We take our time getting there along the Route Gourmande ( a route for gourmets) through lush country side and tastings at various food producers or farms: Ossau Iraty ewe cheese, Espelette pepper, cured hams, gâteau basque, irouleguy wine.  In St Jean Pied de Port, we learn more about the life of those pilgrims going back to medieval times and catch a game of basque pelota. On our way back, we gather over dinner in a traditional farmhouse converted into a high end homey restaurant.

Day 4: Tuesday  – Hopping along the Basque coast: Biarritz, Bayonne, Guethary

  • Guided walking tour of Bayonne, a lively and festive town with a rich history going back to Roman times, also known as the French capital for chocolate, and a fun place to shop in its pedestrians streets along locals.  Then opt for the glamour of Biarritz. Expect a wonderful and dramatic sea side setting loved by Napoleon III’ wife Eugénie , the European high society of the 19th and 20th century, and nowadays an eclectic and international mix of sophisticated urbanites and surfers. On your own time, explore its coastline, museums or shops. Wrap the day with a group dinner at sunset in the quieter, but trendy, village of Guéthary.

Day 5: Wednesday  – Bilbao,  Guetaria, San Sebastian

  • Head to Spain to enjoy the surprising lines and volumes of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, a museum that initiated a huge cultural renaissance for a city with industrial roots. Lunch break in the medieval fishing village of Guetaria unless some people prefer to check out its new Balanciaga museum, an impressive new building for a such a small town. Stop at a txaculi winery before heading to San Sebastian for the evening. San Sebastian is the culinary capital in Europe, with the entire city embracing its deep food traditions and a very inventive cuisine, to be enjoyed in many Michelin-starred restaurants but also at simple tapas bars in the lively streets. Tapas in the basque country are called pinxos. Embark for a host-led tour of pinxos bars while exploring the heart of the city.

Day 6: Thursday  – Basque fishing history and cooking on the Spanish side

  • Head to the fishing village of Pasaia for a morning of pinxos preparation in the kitchen of a traditional Basque restaurant with chef Alex guiding us in the kitchen. Enjoy the fruit of your work over Lunch on the patio overlooking the harbour.
  • Post lunch, we head to the nearby maritime museum that showcases the history of Basque whalers in the 15th century who used to sail every season to North America. The museum is currently building a replica of the schooner that sank off the coast of Red Bay, Newfoundland, in the 1600`s after leaving from Pasaia where it was originally built. Let’s explore a bit of common history between our 2 continents!
  • Dinner at your leisure on your own. Possibility to attend a concert in St Jean de Luz that precedes the opening of the fiestas the following day.

Day 7: Friday  – Interior of the Basque country and  St Jean de Luz fiestas

  • Head to the highest nearby mountain ( Just 20 min away!) for a scenic ride to the top in an old fashioned train, the prehistoric grottos of Sare and a gâteau basque hands-on baking workshop
  • This evening, dress in red and black ready to party along locals of all ages: St Jean de Luz fiestas are starting that night! Check out the opening ceremonies, the beautiful choral concert in the church where Louis XIV married. Let’s wrap our week with our farewell dinner in festive conditions at a local restaurant late in the night. day.

Day 8: Saturday June 20 – Farewell to the Basque Country

  • Transfers to San Sebastian or Biarritz airports to make same day connections back to North America if desired

Cost :
Based on a minimum of 12 registered travelers hosted by Evelyne Dufau, Expérience Authentique founder, with a welcome and farewell at the Biarritz or San Sebastian airports at pre-set times.  Landed cost only.

  • 2,990 euros per pers. with double occupancy ( twin beds or king size beds)-  SOLO travelers can be matched with other solo travelers of the same gender and share twin rooms to minimize overall costs . Inquire for the limited single occupancy possibilities bearing in mind that there is an additional 28% supplement .  All of the rooms in the  mansion have en-suite bathrooms and are of fine and comparable quality. Some rooms are slightly larger than others and will be assigned on a first registered first served basis.

Cost includes:

  • a 7-night stay in one of upscale mansion privatized for our group, overlooking the Atlantic ocean, in St Jean de Luz, with housekeeping service & heated pool ( see slide show on web page). All rooms have en-suite bathrooms (ie shower room or bathtub with handheld shower in tub).
  • local transportation by bus  to all scheduled activities and pre-set airport transfers from Biarritz or San Sebastian
  • all 7 buffet breakfasts
  • 5 dinners (with wines &/or bottled water) , 1 sit-down Lunch in a fine restaurant. When meals are not included, easy logistics are in place for guests to enjoy dining options independently.
  • food and wine  tastings as listed in the program, along with the entry fees to all major sights and museums listed on the itinerary ( Guggenheim museum, scenic train ride, grottos entrance, pelota game, maritime museum)
  • half day pool access to thalasso center ( or ½ day bike rental),  cooking class in Basque restaurant, gâteau basque baking class
  • Evelyne Dufau, founder of Expérience Authentique as your local host around the clock with the group, plus a number of certified local guides joining on specific outings
  • all tips to drivers and guides

Not included: Travel insurance,  meals listed as “on your own” on the itinerary, drinks from guest bar at the mansions, drinks outside the pre-established wine and bottled water selections,  personalized spa & thalassotherapy treatments, optional hatha yoga, oversea flights.

Your Host:  

Next steps:

  • Contact Evelyne DUFAU for more details and to inform her of your interest.