Do you know the 4 most beautiful villages of the Basque Country "Euskadi"?
When you think of the Basque Country (Euskadi), the most famous destinations immediately come to mind: Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bayonne… But if you really want to immerse yourself in the Basque soul, you’ll have to explore its sometimes unknown villages.
During your stay in our charming hotel at the gates of Biarritz, take advantage of our ideal location to discover the 4 most beautiful villages of the Basque Country labeled “Most beautiful villages of France” and with a very rich heritage despite their size.
The label « Most Beautiful Villages in France »
The label “Plus beaux villages de France” is awarded to beautiful villages of less than 2000 inhabitants which have a rich heritage with at least two sites listed as historical monuments.
It was Charles Ceyrac, former mayor of Collonges-la-Rouge, who initiated this label, wishing to promote the heritage of towns that he considered remarkable. The objective was to fight against rural desertification. For this, several mayors joined forces and founded an association in 1982 with the aim of enhancing their villages and bringing them back to life by encouraging visitors to discover the treasures they contain.
Since 1991, the association has established a real quality approach based on a quasi scientific process and criteria for selecting villages. With an average of only 20% of applications accepted, this method has proven its rigor and selectivity, guarantees of the credibility of the label. In 2020, 159 villages are members of this association.
Among the most beautiful villages of the Basque Country, 4 villages are labelled "Most beautiful villages of France".
A typical village known for its smuggling past and its beauty, Sare is located between the legendary Axuria and Rhune mountains, less than 20 kilometres from the Laminak hotel.
Half-timbered houses, six centuries old facades, all set in a green setting where traditions have survived the ages. Just 6 km from the village you will find its caves and you can take advantage of the guided tours offered there to learn more about Basque mythology.
Places not to be missed in the village of Sare
From the central square occupied by the pelota court, walk along the alleys lined with hundred-year-old plane trees to discover the hamlets, the little oratories, the bridges and the washhouses. Look up to watch the vultures flying over the Rhune massif in the distance… And then on drizzly days, take advantage of the excuse of culture to climb the bell tower of the beautiful Saint-Martin church and see its golden oak galleries, or take refuge in the traditional Basque house of Ortillopirz, and let the rain fall on its domain of vines and fruit trees. And on the same mild rainy day, why not take a trip to the Ferme des Fresques and take shelter in the underground world of the prehistoric caves of Sare.
Only a few kilometres from Sare, Ainhoa is a bastide on the route to Santiago de Compostela. Its charm is due in part to the white and red facades of its typical Labourdine houses along its unique street.
The village invites you to stroll along the street to discover the various shops representing the local crafts and gastronomy. You will also discover its small church Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption classified as a Historic Monument
Places not to missed in the basque village of Ainhoa
The most curious feature of Ainhoa is that the buildings on one side of the street are more decorative and have more balconies than those on the other side. In fact, this is because the local tradition is to build the houses with their backs to the sea to protect them from the wind and rain, so that on one side of Ainhoa’s main street, you can see the backs of the houses. The roofs that overhang and protect the half-timbered houses are another characteristic of the architecture of the area.
The church of Our Lady of the Assumption, located in the centre of the village of Ainhoa, originally dates back to the 13th century, although important modifications were made later, especially in the 17th century with the addition of the bell tower. The original church was built on the site of a fortified manor house that stood here in the 12th century.
3 of the most beautiful villages in France are located in the back country
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a well-preserved village, a famous stop on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Surrounded by hilly landscapes, it charms pilgrims as much as visitors who love beautiful stones. This medieval town is partly seductive with its narrow streets and cobblestones, its picturesque facades along the water’s edge, its old bridge over the Nive river and its imposing citadel offering a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area.A village that tells its history through its heritage and typical architecture.
Places not to be missed in the village
The church of Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont, renamed the church of the Assumption of the Virgin, is the most important Gothic building in the Basque Country. It is attached to the old medieval hospital.
Its square is accessible through the Navarre Gate. The Notre Dame door was opened in the church tower. The footbridge, which can be used near the church, offers a breathtaking view of the city.
Other exceptional places make the charm of this Basque village: during your walk, don’t miss the sloping Rue de la Citadelle which joins the Porte Saint-Jacques, or the Rue d’Espagne through which the pilgrims used to leave.
These two streets are rich in remarkable facades, old shops, sculpted lintels and awnings.
This superb 14th-century Navarrese bastide has an incredible charm. Its picturesque central square with arcades, its typical white houses with red half-timbering and its craftsmen’s workshops, each with its own universe, make it a very popular destination. Its church (with the same name as that of the village of Ainhoa, Our Lady of the Assumption) stands out in the region for its cemetery paved with tombstones and its interior lined with three floors of wooden galleries. In addition, its Basque pelota court is the oldest in France!
Places not to be missed in the village of La Bastite Clairence
Most of the shops in the town are run by local artisans, who generally produce good quality items rather than tourist quality. If you are looking for unusual gifts, this is a good place to find them.
The church is more ornate on the outside than most churches in the area. Inside, it has wooden galleries around the edges, as is common in Basque churches, giving it a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Next to the church is a Jewish cemetery.
Once you have had a good walk around the village, you should visit the small shop in the Rue Notre Dame which sells macaroons. These come in many flavours, including chilli, thanks to the famous Espelette chillies. Delicious! Go and get your bag of macaroons in the little garden behind the tourist office of La Bastide-Clairence to taste them better!
Espelette is world famous for its chilli pepper culture and is also a picturesque traditional village in Labourd. The facades of its half-timbered Basque houses are decorated for most of the year with bunches of dried chillies. The town’s emblem, the Espelette chilli pepper, is celebrated at the end of October: two days of concerts, tastings of local products, with chilli pepper at the top of the list, and demonstrations of Basque strength or ball games.
Places not to be missed in the village of Espelette
From spring to autumn, a visit to the “Atelier du Piment” is a must: you will discover all the secrets of the cultivation of the famous Espelette chilli pepper through a tour that takes you from the fields to the artisanal production workshops. The village is also a pleasant place to walk around: a pedestrian area allows you to stroll between numerous shops selling local products and crafts, admiring the typical architecture of the houses and shops.
Espelette, one of the most beautiful village in the basque country takes its name from its castle, built by the barons of Ezpeleta around the year 1000. This beautiful building is open to the public and is located near the main pedestrian area of the village. It is well worth a visit, especially for its permanent exhibition “chilli in the world”. The church of Saint-Etienne d’Espelette, located a few steps from the main street of the village, is one of the most beautiful churches in the Basque Country. You will discover a magnificent baroque altarpiece and 3 floors of galleries dating from the 17th century. And to finish off with the Antton chocolate factory, take advantage of your visit to Espelette to discover and taste Antton’s chocolate sweets, which passionately combine pure cocoa butter chocolate and noble materials.
The Laminak, a hotel in Biarritz ranked among the best boutique establishments in the Basque Country
Coming to the Laminak to spend your summer vacations is to ensure that you will have an exceptional time. However, it is important to choose the right hotel in Biarritz.
At the boutique hotel Le Laminak Biarritz Arbonne everything is done to make your stay in the Basque Country as pleasant as possible. Indeed, its top-of-the-range services and its exceptional location are undeniable assets.
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