There is a local area in France where the land, the sea and the mountains are one. This area goes beyond the border on the other side of the Pyrenees in Spain and which is called Basque Country. This part of France is located in the department of “Pyrénées-Atlantiques”. Names such as Bayonne, Biarritz, St Jean de Luz have made it famous. But far away from the splendour on the coast, there is the inside area where green pasturelands and hills mix each other with villages like Espelette, Ainhoa, Sare… and mountains like La Rhune.
What is La Rhune? This is the summit that overlooks this beautiful region and separates France from Spain. We can access walking for 2 hours or taking a little train. The walk is quite picturesque going through sheep and little local horses called “pottocks”. The view is uninterrupted. From the peak we can see the whole coast from San Sebastian in Spain to the South of the “Landes” (the region next to the Basque Country going to Bordeaux). Let’s just say the walk has to take place a sunny day to enjoy the view!
If we go to the coast from here, we could have a walk in Socoa that is a small port next to Ciboure and Saint Jean de Luz. The barques are colourful, time has stopped and the fortress overlooks us. Waves are impressive from here if you are there a storm day. From this place, we can see the beach of Saint Jean de Luz and its bay. We can eat good fresh fish or have an ice-cream if the weather is good.
Another good surprise can be found following the road in Spain to Bilbao at about 130 kilometers: the Oma forest. A forest of fantasy where the trees fill the landscape of colours. This forest is a work of the artist Agustín Ibarrola who painted it in the eighties. It is located on the Natural Reserve of Urdaiba. A beautiful proof of the relationship between nature and human being.
Mountains, sea, forests… or how to find a change of scene in a few minutes!
Author: Claire Saint-Didier
Co-Founder of EcoMind Travel