Where to stay

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My region of birth is one where it is best to stay put for a while in order to get to know it and  feel it.  If rushing through it, you miss out on its quality of life and  spirit. Find out for yourself why generations of families and friends return year after year to relax and savour life together. Below are some guidelines to choose your ideal home base  to explore the region.

Saint Jean de Luz – Ciboure

St Jean de Luz-Ciboure blends the appeal of an old world French basque village with the sophistication of a  beach & mountain resort destination loved by well-off French families for generations. It is anchored in its French Basque traditions and rich history, and its people are proud to share its culture, gastronomy and attractive geography. It is not a museum town unlike some other attractive historic French villages where there is often a disconnect with real life. St Jean de Luz is alive with real French locals & visitors who live, work and relax there. Families with younger children will find its lifestyle particularly attractive with a family oriented cultural agenda, the large & protected swimming beach and the ease of getting around on foot. Indeed, one can easily walk between the fishing harbour, the main square with cafés, the various beaches, the 2historical centers and shopping streets, and the market.  The cultural agenda is richest between June and October. I found it to be the favourite home base of my North American visitors for multi-generational gatherings: old world charm, strategic location, everything under walking distance, it has a vibrant soul.

Biarritz

Biarritz is  a bigger resort town with the architectural roots of an early 1900s high society beach resort, set on spectacular Atlantic shores. Today, appealing to all ages and with a solid year-round cultural agenda, its claims to fame include being the surfing capital of Europe as well as an established destination  for golfers and movie/dance festival goers.  Its population is an eclectic mix of locals, French & international visitors who enjoy both the trendy buzz of the town and its French Basque charms.  Families with teenagers will find that Biarritz actively engages all ages in the vacation experience. Teenagers and adults, keen on linguistic programs, will find quality language programs combined with rich extra-curricular activities to enjoy in French. The main difference with St Jean de Luz in terms of accommodation is to realize that most accommodations are in apartments as opposed to villas. Biarritz is only a 15 minutes drive from St Jean de Luz so it is easy to enjoy the old world charm of St Jean and more spacious accommodations while easily dropping in in Biarritz for a more urban & cosmopolitan feel.

Guéthary-Bidart

Nestled on the coast between the two big name destinations of the region, ie St Jean de Luz and Biarritz, Guéthary-Bidart have their own buzz between June and September. It is a heavenly place for surfers and those who love to walk along scenic costal cliffs and watch big surf crashing on rocks and sandy shores. You will find great casual restaurants and lively cafés where to hang out in but few boutiques. The place has a low key and casual  feel, inspired by the surfing culture, and allows for easy outings into ST Jean de Luz and Biarritz, which are a 5 to 10 minute drive.

Inland, the coast nearby

Think lush greenery and countryside, red timbered white houses,  hikes in the foothills of the Pyrénées mountains, meals in isolated mountain inns found on mountain walks, pelota games,  and live Basque music in small but lively villages. The sounds are of the countryside but the coastal  beaches and towns of St Jean & Biarritz are a 10 to 15 minute drive away. A perfect set up if your priority is for quiet and scenic countryside views. Staying inland also costs less than right on the coast, but yet so close.  A car is a must!

Coast of les Landes, Hossegor

I like to call les Landes the Californian coast of Europe with its long stretches of sandy beaches, sand dunes and large forest areas and Californian easy-going surfer culture. If you are looking for old world France, you do not want the coast of les Landes. If you look for space, nature, great waves, a casual life style while having cultural outings within a 20 min  drive, then it is your destination. Hossegor is the main hub with its urban hipster meet nature type of feel. Surfing is `nearly` compulsory…