Amorebieta-Etxano > Bayonne
07/03/2023 - Stage 3 - 193,5 km - Flat
On the road
Closest KM: Hendaye, KM 134 (border)
The peloton will follow the course of the EuroVelo 1 Atlantic Coast Route from the French-Spanish border to Saint-Jean-de-Luz! This European route traces the western edge of Europe, from Scandinavia to southern and western Portugal. It spans about 11,150 km, from the Norwegian fjords and the rugged Irish coast to the great beaches on the shores of the Atlantic. The French section, usually known as "La Vélodyssée", runs for 1,300 km along the Breton coasts and the Atlantic seaboard to the Basque Country. This cycling odyssey, which is for the most part separate from roads, is wildly popular with tourists who want to embark on an adventure on two wheels. Over 3.6 million trips were recorded on the route in 2018.
AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY OF THE BASQUE COUNTRY
Provinces: Alava, Vizcaya and Guipuscoa.
Population: 2.2 million
Area: 7,234 km2
Specialities: Biscayan cod, cod al pil-pil, choricero (pepper), Guernica beans, marmitako (a kind of tuna bouillabaisse). Pisto a la bilbaina (ratatouille with egg and ham). Txakoli (wine). Perretxikos (mushrooms). Goxua (custard cake). Vitoria-style beans, fried vegetables, fried peppers, dried beans known as "pochas". The Rioja region of Alava produces wines protected by the Rioja designation of origin. Pintxos (tapas). Kokotxa (hake jowl in green sauce). Idiazabal cheese, guindillas from Ibarra, anchovies à la donostiarra with garlic, fresh fish, Tolosa beans. Txangurros (spider crabs). Idiazabal (cheese). Cider from Astigarraga.
Sports clubs: Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Deportivo Alaves (football). Saski-Baskonia (basketball, two-time Euroleague finalist). Bera Bera Rugby.
Competitions: Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2023. Clasica San Sebastian. Tour of the Basque Country. Basque Pelota. Ironman of Vitoria-Gasteiz. Surfing. Behobia - San Sebastian (foot race).
Economy: Shipbuilding, services, high technology (Bizkaia Technology Park), port activities (first port on the north coast of Spain), banking (BBVA headquarters), Iberdrola (electricity and gas). Fishing, agriculture, tourism. Automobile industry (Daimler Benz, Michelin, Daewoo). Agriculture. Beach tourism, congresses. Universities, shops. Cooperatives (Mondragon). Domestic appliances (Fagor). Metallurgy.
Culture: Guggenheim Museum, Fine Arts Museum. Aste Nagusia (August), commemoration of the foundation of the city of Bilbao (15 June). Azkena Rock Festival (June), International Games Festival (June), Vitoria Jazz Festival (July), Dia del Blusa (July), Fiestas de la Blanca (August). San Sebastian European Capital of Culture 2016. San Sebastian Film Festival (September), San Sebastian Jazz Festival (mid-July). Tamborrada (January). Feria, Donostikluba (electronic music). International Puppet Centre (Tolosa).
Sights: Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, Gaztelugatxe islet, Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, Vizcaya Bridge, Bermeo, Guernica, Guernica Tree.
PROVINCE OF BISCAY
Population: 1.15 million
Capital city: Bilbao
Area: 2,217 km2
Specialities: Biscayan cod, cod al pil-pil, choricero (pepper), Guernica beans, marmitako (a kind of tuna bouillabaisse). Pisto a la bilbaina (ratatouille with egg and ham). Txakoli (wine).
Major sports clubs: Athletic Bilbao (football).
Major competitions: Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2023. Tour of the Basque Country. Basque Pelota.
Culture and festivals: Guggenheim Museum, Fine Arts Museum.
Sights: Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, Gaztelugatxe islet, Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, Vizcaya Bridge, Bermeo, Guernica, Guernica Tree.
Economy: Bilbao is the 10th largest city in Spain and one of its main economic centres. Shipbuilding, services, high technology (Bizkaia technology park), port activities (first port on the north coast of Spain), banking (BBVA headquarters), Iberdrola (electricity and gas). Fishing, agriculture, tourism.
Websites / social networks: www.visitbiscay.eus
This industrial town (machine tools, iron), crossed by the river Ibaizabal, is located very close to the Urkiola Natural Park, where one can go for beautiful walks or climb peaks such as Anboto (1,331 m), Alluitz (1,040 m) and Mugarra (964 m). Durango, famous for its Basque Book and Record Fair, also has a rich architectural heritage, including the town hall and the Renaissance-style Lariz Tower. From a religious point of view, the two churches that stand at either end of the old quarter are worth mentioning: the Baroque church of Santa Ana, located next to the arch of the same name, and the church of Santa Maria de Uribarri, with a vast Gothic interior and a large wooden portal. Among the riders born in Durango, we can mention Juan Carlo Alonso, who took part in the 1982 Tour de France, a Giro and four editions of the Vuelta. Andres Gandarias, who finished 5th in the 1969 Tour de France, took part in six editions and won a stage in the Giro. He was based in Durango. The city, which has hosted the Vuelta twice, is also the home of the Bizkaia-Durango women's continental team.
Construction: 16th century.
Characteristics: It was built in the 16th century but had to be restored due to the damage caused by the bombings of the Civil War in 1937. The building, influenced by the Neapolitan style, is rectangular in plan and divided into two floors plus the attic. The portico is made of ashlar and the rest of the building is made of brick. The ground floor has a beautiful entrance with seven semicircular arches. The first floor has a large balcony. The central door is framed by pillars and a broken triangular pediment in the centre, where the town's coat of arms is located. The paintings on the top two floors are also noteworthy: figurative architecture, little stories of love and hunting. These are reproductions of the original rococo paintings by Ignacio de Zumarraga.
A small rural town surrounded by mountains and woods, Abadino is the starting point for numerous routes on foot, by bike or on horseback. Its architectural heritage bears witness to its long history. The Tower of Muntsaratz, for example, is one of the most important Renaissance buildings in the Basque Country. Abadino is the birthplace of David Etxebarria, who took part in the Tour de France seven times between 1997 and 2004 and finished 12th in 1999. Another local rider, Mikel Zarrrabeitia, second in the Vuelta in 1994, was considered the great hope of Spanish cycling before health problems hampered his career.
Construction: as early as the 9th century.
Characteristics: Its name comes from the noble family who built it. Restored around 1590 with a gallery of Tuscan columns, it is considered to be the most important Renaissance building of civil architecture in Bizkaia. Built of carefully cut sandstone, it forms a cube lightened at the top by an arched gallery. Each of its five floors has a different function: the ground floor was used as a living room, the second floor as a kitchen, and the third and fourth floors are residential, with a central double-height room with access to the gallery. The top floor was used as a drying room and attic. The building has defensive elements and its lower part probably predates the prohibition of fortified towers decreed by the Catholic Monarchs.
The paper and metal industries forged the industrial vocation of Berriz, which is remarkable for its tower-houses, medieval fortresses transformed into palaces during the Renaissance. Its two churches, both Renaissance, complete the local heritage. It is the birthplace of Marino Lejarreta, one of the best grand tour riders Basque cycling has produced. Winner of the Tour of Spain in 1982, he has more than 50 professional victories, including three in the Clasica San Sebastian, of which he is the record winner. Lejarreta is one of the riders to have won stages in the three major Tours, five in the Vuelta, two in the Giro and one in the Tour de France. He has won the Tour of Catalonia twice and has competed in the Grande Boucle eight times, taking fifth place twice, in 1989 and 1990. He has also finished in the top five in all three major events. In all, Lejarreta took part in 27 Grand Tours between 1979 and 1991, competing in all three in the same year on four occasions, in 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991. His brother Ismael also took part in three Tours de France, as did another native of Berriz, Jose Luis Uziberubia (1970, 1971 and 1976).
As the birthplace of great pelota players and a stopover on the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago de Compostela, many pilgrims pass through the town. The town centre has preserved its medieval structure and is home to many interesting buildings. Among these are the Carmel church, whose façade features a sculpture of the Virgin and a coat of arms of the Carmelite Order, the palaces of Solartekua (the present-day town hall), Andonegi and Ansotegi, the Antxia tower and the old town hall. On the outskirts are other important monuments, such as the beautiful Patrokua Palace, the church of Santa María de la Asunción de Xemein, declared a National Monument of the Basque Country, and the hermitage of San Miguel de Arretxinaga, a surprising hexagonal temple with an altar formed by three rocks. Home to famous pelota players, the town and its pelota court are known as the "University of Pelota", Markina-Xemein having become a high-level learning centre. The town has twice hosted the Tour of the Basque Country in 2014 (Ben Swift) and 2015 (Luis Leon Sanchez).
Santa Maria de la Asuncion de Xemein Church
Construction: 16th century.
Style: Renaissance and Gothic.
Characteristics: Composed of three naves and mixing Gothic and Renaissance elements, this temple has a rectangular plan and a square chevet. Its large altarpiece is a magnificent Mannerist work.
Special features: the neoclassical cemetery next to the church is distinguished by its rectangular shape and cloister.
Listing: National Monument of the Basque Country.
Fishing has been a fundamental activity in the town since its creation. The organisation of the fishing activity was regulated by the decrees of the mareantes and controlled by the Brotherhood of Fishermen of San Pedro. The latter had the right to choose a mayor who exercised his powers for the rest of the town's population. The development of maritime activities favoured the establishment of a whole industry devoted to shipbuilding and repair, the last remains of which can still be appreciated at the beginning of the 21st century. The city is also marked by its long-standing and tenacious rivalry with its neighbour Ondarroa.
Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption
Construction: 15th century.
Style: Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Gothic.
Characteristics: It is one of the finest examples of late Gothic Basque art. It dates from the 15th century and was built on the ruins of an old Romanesque temple from the 13th century. The building is characterised by its three naves, its ambulatory and its set of buttresses crowned by beautifully decorated pinnacles and striking buttresses. Inside, the chapels, the ornate triforium that runs through it and the magnificent Gothic-Flemish altarpiece by the master Juan García de Crisal are particularly noteworthy.
Listing: National monument of the Basque Country. Property of cultural interest (1931).
Ondarroa is located at the mouth of the River Artibai, in a very rugged area, bathed by the waters of the Bay of Biscay. This stretch of coastline is made up of steep cliffs, among which the Pena del Fraile (Monk's Rock) stands out. The old town, classified as an asset of cultural interest, and its narrow, steep streets have a charming taste of the Middle Ages and the ocean. The 15th-century Likona Tower, one of the oldest in the Basque Country, can be admired here. Not far away is the Church of Santa Maria (1462), a Gothic monument made of ashlar and sandstone, which stands out for its wide variety of windows, the crowns of its buttresses and the rose window on its façade. The old town hall is also noteworthy for its Tuscan façade, which is very different from the rest of the buildings in the municipality. Ondarroa has a beach, Arrigorri, from which you can walk to the nearby beach of Saturraran, which belongs to the town of Mutriku. Two members of the Spanish football team, defender Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao) and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) were born in Ondarroa. In 2021, a stage of the Tour of the Basque Country was won by Mikkel Honoré.
PROVINCE OF GUIPUSCOA
Capital: Donostia (San Sebastian)
Area: 1,909 km2
Personalities: Maria Christina of Austria (Queen of Spain), Alfonso XIII (King of Spain). Cristobal Balenciaga (fashion designer). Abraham Olano, Jose Luis Arrieta, Pello Ruiz Cabestany, Chente Garcia Acosta, Domingo Perurena (cyclists). Aritz Aranburu (surfing). Aritz Aduriz (football, Spanish international), Mikel Arteta (football, Arsenal coach), "Txiki" Begiristain (sports director of Manchester City). Pio Baroja (writer). Paco Ibanez (musician). Eduardo Chillida (sculptor).
Specialities: Pintxos (tapas). Kokotxa (hake jowl in green sauce). Idiazabal cheese, guindillas from Ibarra, anchovies à la donostiarra with garlic, fresh fish, Tolosa beans. Txangurros (spider crabs). Idiazabal (cheese). Cider from Astigarraga.
Culture and festivals: San Sebastian European Capital of Culture 2016. San Sebastian Film Festival (September), San Sebastian Jazz Festival (mid-July). Tamborrada (January). Feria, Donostikluba (electronic music). International Puppet Centre (Tolosa).
Sports: Real Sociedad (football), Bera Bera Rugby, surfing.
Events: Clasica San Sebastian, Tour of the Basque Country (cycling), Behobia-San Sebastian (running).
Economy: seaside tourism, congresses. University, shops. Cooperatives (Mondragón). Domestic appliances (Fagor). Metallurgy.
Websites and social networks: www.gipuzkoa.eus
Situated on the slopes of the Arno River (628 m), this charming fishing village, the birthplace of the famous sailors Antonio Gaztaneta and Cosme Damian Churruca, was founded in the early 13th century and still preserves its medieval layout and the remains of its ancient walls. Its old quarter, listed as a monumental complex in 1995, is characterised by narrow, steep streets lined with stately homes and towers from the 15th, 16th and 16th centuries. Around the main square, where the statue of Churruca (hero of the naval battle of Trafalgar) stands, are several emblematic buildings: the neoclassical church of Nuestra Señora de la Assunta, listed as a national monument and containing a Christ attributed to El Greco, the Town Hall, the Palacio Galdona, the Palacio Zabiel and the Palacio Montalibet, and the houses of Gaztaneta and Olazarra. The port is one of the oldest in Gipuzkoa. For a long time, its inhabitants were dedicated to whaling and, even today, fishing and its related industries play an important role in the town's economy. We should not forget the traditional mackerel day (Berdel Eguna), which is celebrated every year on the first Saturday in April and promotes mackerel and the different ways of cooking this tasty blue fish.
Surrounded by hills, the village receives many tourists, attracted by the beauty of its landscape. It is one of the most spectacular corners of the Basque coastline for its erosion. Alongside the steep cliffs is a flat area, very unusual from a geological point of view, which is discovered at low tide and is home to many migratory birds. Deba is also famous for its quiet coves and two beautiful beaches: Santiago and Lapari. There are about fifty caves and prehistoric sites in the vicinity. Some of the caves contain the most important archaeological sites in the Basque Country. Deba is the home of the brothers Aitor and Unai Osa, who both participated in the Tour de France and both finished in the Top 10 of the Vuelta: Aitor won the best climber jersey in the Tour of Spain in 2002 while Unai finished on the podium of the Giro in 2001.
Period: Magdalenian (15,000-12,000 BC).
Features: together with Lascaux, Niaux and Altamira, Ekain is one of the most important prehistoric sites on the Atlantic coast. Its cave paintings, including a remarkable group of horses, are of the highest importance for the period. The pictorial ensemble was discovered in 1969: there are 70 figures, 64 painted and 6 engraved, in an excellent state of preservation. A replica for the visit was made by Renaud Sanson, already author of the facsimiles of Lascaux II and Niaux.
This coastal town, on the edge of a beautiful bay, has many assets: two splendid beaches, a charming old town and a modern marina. The old town is dominated by the 13th-century Gothic church of San Pedro, which is reminiscent of a fortress. It has a single nave and is one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in the Basque Country. It contains a national monument: an altarpiece by Juan de Antxieta. In the sloping streets, you come across other interesting buildings such as the Zumaia and Ubillos palaces and the Olazabal and Goikotorre houses. Itzurun beach is known for its waters which are beneficial to health due to their high iodine content. Santiago beach is located near the Zuloaga Museum, the home of the famous painter from Eibar.
A "flysch" is a sedimentary deposit consisting mainly of alternating sandstones and marls, which have accumulated in an ocean basin that is closing as a result of the convergence of two tectonic plates. The Zumaia flysch is one of the most spectacular and best-studied outcrops in the world, since it bears witness to climatic, biological and geological events of the utmost importance, and its thickness covers a period of fifty million years. At present, these layers are in a vertical position, turning this outcrop into a great history book of the earth, such as the Cretaceous-Tertiary transition 65 million years ago, the last great climatic warming (Paleocene-Eocene) or the orogeny of the Pyrenees. This abrasion platform is home to the richest and most complex ecosystem on the Basque coast.
Zuloaga House Museum
History: the place was acquired and restored in 1910 by Ignacio Zuloaga (170-1945) to restore a 14th century hermitage, to set up his studio and to exhibit part of his works and collection. The main museum dedicated to the Basque painter, one of the most famous portraitists of his time, is in Segovia.
Characteristics: the Ignacio Zuloaga Cultural Centre is made up of several buildings that reveal the life and work of the painter. In the studio, the artist's personal objects are kept, as well as some of his works. The Museum of the Historical Collection, also built by the painter, contains the collections of Zuloaga, his wife Valentine Dethomas and the pieces inherited from his father, Placido Zuloaga. There are works by Rodin, Zurbaran, Goya and El Greco. The ensemble is completed by a Romanesque hermitage that was rebuilt by Zuloaga between 1910 and 1920 and which houses a Christ on the Cross by Julio Beobide and an image of the Dolorosa, by Quintin Torres, both polychromed by Ignacio Zuloaga. His grandson, Rafael Zuloaga, has been exhibiting contemporary art since 2012.
Nestled between two beautiful beaches and facing a small islet, Getaria is a pretty, picturesque fishing village, popular for its fresh fish dishes accompanied by the local wine called Txakoli, which can be tasted in the port. Worth seeing is the spectacular Mount San Anton, which rises from the sea and was once an island, or the Gothic church of San Salvador (15th century), which is a National Monument. It is also the birthplace of the famous fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga, to whom a museum is dedicated in his family home, and of the explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano, one of the first navigators to sail around the world.
Born on 21 January 1895 in Getaria and died on 23 March 1972 in Xabia, Cristobal Balenciaga was one of the greatest couturiers in history, nicknamed by his peers "the master" or "the couturier of couturiers". He began his career in San Sebastian in the 1910s and moved to Paris in 1937, but it was during the 1950s that he completely transformed the female silhouette, evolving it to finally reach its peak in the early 1960s. His classic, streamlined style earned him loyal clients such as the Queens of Spain and Belgium, Princess Grace of Monaco and the Duchess of Windsor. His work has influenced many fashion designers, such as Oscar de la Renta, André Courrèges who worked in his studio, Emanuel Ungaro and Hubert de Givenchy. In 1968, he decided to retire. The Balenciaga brand now belongs to the French holding company Kering.
Its extensive beach, flanked by the cliffs of Santa Barbara and Mollarri, extends for 2,500 metres and is lined by a busy promenade full of terraces and cafés. Its colourful canopies and fine golden sand make it one of the most beautiful beaches on the Basque coast. Its spectacular waves also make it a popular spot for surfers, and Zarautz hosts a World Cup event. To the east of the beach, near the mouth of the Inurritza River, begins an area of dunes, the largest on the Gipuzkoa coast, which is classified as a protected biotope. The old quarter is full of buildings and monuments: the parish church of Santa María La Real, the Franciscan and Poor Clare convents, the Narros palace, the large Torre Luzea tower, the Zarauz family's Casa Torre tower house, the Casa Dotorekua house and the Casa Portu house (the present-day town hall). Zarautz has hosted the Tour of the Basque Country three times, most recently in 2018, when Julian Alaphilippe won. It is also the home of Haimar Zubeldia, the most discreet of the great Grand Tour riders. He has taken part in 16 Tours de France and finished five times in the top ten. Gorka Gonzalez, a native of the city, has only participated in one edition of the Tour, in 2002.
History and characteristics: Narros Palace, also known as the Zarauz Palace or Corral Palace, is located on the beach. It was once the summer residence of illustrious figures such as Queen Isabel II and Father Coloma. Built in 1536, it consists of a central building with two wings. Its exterior perimeter is made of sandstone. On its central façade stands the large arched doorway, above which is the coat of arms of the house with the inscription "Zarauz antes que Zarauz" (Zarauz before Zarauz). The palace is surrounded by a beautiful English-style garden.
Current use: it is currently privately owned and cannot be visited.
Listed as a historical and artistic monument since 1964.
Pagoeta Nature Park
The Pagoeta Nature Park, established around the eponymous mountain, has a very interesting educational function. A nature school and visitors' centre, housed in a magnificent 15th-century Basque farmhouse, provide an insight into life on Basque farms and the botanical wealth of the area. Other interesting features of Pagoeta include the Agorregi forge, dating from the early 15th century, and the ice houses (elurzuloak), which explain the ancient techniques of cold preservation. There are important prehistoric remains in the park: dolmens (Otagain, Olarteta, Zaingo), burial mounds (Muzin, Arreta...) and deposits in various caves (Erratia and Amalda in the Alzoralas valley). The indigenous breeds of cattle, such as the Betizu cow or the Pottoka horse, are a unique feature of the park.
Capital of the province of Gipuzkoa
Stage town for the third time
Population: 187,849 (436,000 in the urban area)
Personalities: Maria Christina of Austria (Queen of Spain), Alfonso XIII (King of Spain), Cristobal Balenciaga (fashion), Abraham Olano, Jose Luis Arrieta, Pello Ruiz Cabestany, Chente Garcia Acosta (cycling), Aritz Aranburu (surfing), Aritz Aduriz (football, Spanish international), Mikel Arteta (football, Arsenal coach), Pio Baroja (writer),
Specialities: Pintxos (tapas), Kokotxa (hake jowl in green sauce), Idiazabal cheese, guindillas from Ibarra, anchovies à la donostiarra with garlic, fresh fish, Tolosa beans, Txangurros (spider crabs) San Sebastian is also one of the few cities to have three restaurants with three Michelin stars.
Culture and festivals: European Capital of Culture in 2016. San Sebastian Film Festival (September), San Sebastian Jazz Festival (mid-July). Tamborrada (January). Feria, Donostikluba (electronic music). Kursaal Palace.
Sports: Real Sociedad (football), Bera Bera Rugby, surfing.
Events: Clasica San Sebastian (cycling), Behobia-San Sebastian (running).
Economy: seaside tourism, congresses. University, shops.
Nickname: the pearl of the Cantabrian Sea.
Basque name: Donostia.
Websites / FB / Twitter / Instagram: www.sansebastianturismoa.eus / www.donostia.eus / https://www.facebook.com/sansebastiantourism / https://twitter.com/SSTurismo / https://www.instagram.com/sansebastiantourism /
Errenteria, with its industrial past, has the largest old town in the region. San Marcos is one of the favourite places of the inhabitants: at the top stands the fort of San Marcos, used during the Carlist Wars and the Civil War, with magnificent views of San Sebastian and Pasaia. From a heritage point of view, the church of Our Lady of the Ascension is worth mentioning, as well as the numerous convents and hermitages, such as the Augustinian convent or the Basilica of Santa Magdalena. Errenteria hosts major cultural events throughout the year: Musikaste, which has been held since 1974 in the second half of May, and Atlantikaldia, a meeting of cultures and a music festival, in the third week of September. It is the hometown of former Spanish road champion Ane Santesteban (2013), who last year took part in the first edition of the Women's Tour in the colours of Bike Exchange-Jayco.
It is one of the largest municipalities in Gipuzkoa. Part of its territory belongs to the Aiako Harria Nature Park, a natural area that contains the only granite massif in the Basque Country. The old part of the town is full of interesting buildings, including two churches: the parish church of San Esteban de Lartaun, with an altarpiece from the 17th century, and the Basilica of San Juan Bautista, from the 16th century. Oiartzun is at the heart of the Arditurri Greenway, which runs from Pasai Antxo and Lezo to Errenteria, and is only accessible to pedestrians and bicycles. Oiartzun is the birthplace of several great professional cyclists such as Domingo Perurena, who won the mountain classification of the Tour de France in 1974 and regularly wore the leader's jersey in the Vuelta during his 14 participations in the event, finishing second in 1975. A two-time Spanish road champion, he won no less than twelve stages in the Tour of Spain and two stages in the Giro. Another native of the city, Miguel Maria Lasa, won eleven stages in the three major Tours, including two in the Tour de France in 1976 and 1978. He won the points classification in the Vuelta in 1975 and finished on the podium four times in the Tour of Spain, without ever winning. Three times ranked in the top ten in the Giro, Miguel Maria Lasa obtained his best result in the Grande Boucle in 1974 (17th). His older brother, José Manuel, took part twice in the Tour de France in 1967 and 1968. His son Gaizka was also a professional in the 2000s, where he rode alongside another child of Oiartzun, Iker Leonet. In 2007, the Tour of the Basque Country ended in Oiartzun with the overall victory of Juan Jose Cobo Acebo.
A border town, facing Hendaye on the other side of the Bidasoa River, Irun has thrived thanks to this border role and its position on the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago. With its 60,000 inhabitants and 2,000 years of history, the city is alive with gastronomic markets and popular cafés. The Pilgrim's Way to Santiago passes through Irun and is a good place to stop, for example at the Oiasso Roman Museum. Irun is the birthplace of Juan Manuel Garate, a stage winner in all three major Tours. Fifth in the Giro in 2005, the Basque climber won at the top of Mont Ventoux in the 2009 Tour de France. Another native of Irun, Jose Maria Errandonea, made Tour history by winning the first prologue at the start of the 1967 edition. Irun has hosted the Vuelta five times, including starts in 2020 and 2022.
Pheasant Island or Conference Island (in Basque: Konpantzia) is a small river island located on the Bidasoa River, near its mouth and Chingoudy Bay, on the French-Spanish border. The island has long been used for bilateral meetings between the French and Spanish authorities. Having the status of a condominium, it is administered alternately by France and Spain with a change of administration every six months. It is the only example in contemporary international relations of alternating sovereignty over the same territory. Access to it is forbidden to the public.
Oiasso Roman Museum
History: Underneath the present-day city of Irun lies the Roman colony of Oiasso. Located at the mouth of the Bidasoa River, on the border between Hispania and Aquitaine, Oiasso was, in ancient times, the port city of the Vascons. During the Roman Empire, as part of the province known as Tarracona, the town became an important centre of communications and trade in northern Hispania.
Features: inaugurated in 2006, the Oiasso Museum brings together the most remarkable archaeological remains from the Roman period found in the area as a result of excavations carried out in recent decades. The archaeological excavations have identified the port and its warehouses, the baths, the necropolis and the mining operations in the area.
NEW AQUITAINE REGION
Departments : Charente, Charente-Maritime, Corrèze, Creuse, Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Deux-Sèvres, Vienne, Haute-Vienne.
Population: 5.9 million
Area: 2,011 km2
Specialities: Bordeaux wines, Cognac, Armagnac, Espelette chilli pepper, Périgord walnuts, Marmande tomatoes, oysters from the Arcachon basin, Salers meat, Aquitaine cow, Bayonne ham, Pauillac lamb, Bordeaux canelés. Goose, duck, Sarlat apples, Basque chicken, garbure, lamprey. Black truffle.
Sport clubs: Girondins de Bordeaux (football), Stade Montois, Union Sportive Dacquoise, Aviron Bayonnais, Union Bordeaux Bègles Atlantique, Stade Rochelais, CA Brive Corrèze Limousin, Section Paloise, Biarritz Olympique, SU Agen (rugby), Elan Béarnais Pau-Orthez, CSP Limoges (basketball).
Competitions: Tour de France, surfing in Lacanau (Lacanau Pro) and Biarritz. Tour du Limousin.
Festivals: Bayonne festival, Dax festival, Madeleine festival in Mont-de-Marsan, Francofolies in La Rochelle, Angoulême comic book festival, Brive book fair, Nuits de nacre in Tulle, Grand Pavois in La Rochelle, Garorock in Marmande, Cognac detective film festival
Economy: Bordeaux wines, Cognac and Armagnac, aeronautics and space industry, biotechnologies, chemistry, scientific research. Image and digital sector. Agri-food industry. Port of Bordeaux. Tourism. Universities.
Sights: Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion, La Rochelle, Biarritz, Arcachon basin, Dune du Pilat, Lascaux caves, Futuroscope in Poitiers, Lacanau beaches, Biarritz, Biscarosse, Hourtin, Carcans, Soulac-sur-Mer, Gironde river mouth, Bordeaux vineyards, Dordogne castles, Pau castle, Pyrenees, Oleron island, Ré island.
Websites and social networks: www.nouvelle-aquitaine.fr
Region: New Aquitaine
Prefecture : Pau
Subprefectures : Bayonne, Oloron-Sainte-Marie
Number of municipalities: 546
Area: 7,645 km2
Specialities: piperade; madiran (wine); pacherenc (wine); poule au pot; garbure; jurançon (wine); axoa; piment d'Espelette; poulet basquaise (Basque chicken); gâteau basque (Basque cake); Irouléguy (AOC wine); Bayonne ham
Sports clubs: Elan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (basketball), Section Paloise, Biarritz olympique, Aviron Bayonnais (rugby), Pau FC (football).
Competitions: Canoe/Kayak World Cup in Pau, Pau Automobile Grand Prix, Pau Eventing.
Festivals : Fêtes de Bayonne, Festival Hestiv'Òc
Economy : agropastoralism, hydroelectricity, agri-food, aeronautics, thermalism
Websites and social networks:
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Hendaye is situated in an exceptional setting between the Atlantic Ocean and the first Pyrenean mountains. The magnificent domain of Abbadia with its cliffs and castle, the long sandy beach which borders the town and the sinuous curves of the Bidassoa river, between France and Spain, make Hendaye an environmentally sensitive town. The proximity of Spain adds a particular interest for visitors eager for unexpected cultural discoveries. Locally, the towns of Irun and Hondarribia rub shoulders with Hendaye thanks to the Bidasoa river and numerous exchanges are taking place within the framework of the Consorcio Bidasoa Txingudi. Among the town's celebrities, travel writer Pierre Loti, who often resided in town, died here. He was even viceroy of the Isle of Pheasants, located on the Bidasoa between Irun and Hendaye. It is also the town where Bixente Lizarazu began his football career, playing for the Eglantines of Hendaye before signing for the Girondins of Bordeaux. Hendaye has hosted the Tour de France three times, in 1928, 1939 and 1996.
Construction: 1864 to 1879.
Architect: Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc.
History: the Abbadia family has been living in Arrast, in the Basque Country, since the 14th century. In the middle of the 19th century, Antoine d'Abbadie d'Arrast, explorer and anthropologist, member of the Academy of Sciences, decided to build a neo-Gothic style observatory castle where his orientalist, African and Christian passions were combined. The influence of his travels in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Egypt can be seen in the interior decoration. He entrusted the design to Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and Edmond Duthoit. The castle, which houses an observatory, was completed in 1864.
Characteristics: the exterior architecture of the building is in the Irish neo-Gothic style. It consists of a central building (square tower) from which three extensions emanate: a south wing, intended for receptions and terminated by the round tower, an east wing, for housing, terminated by the chapel, the observatory situated to the north-west and accessed by crossing a small square tower.
Special features: a park with many exotic species surrounds the castle. One third of the Abbadia estate now belongs to the Conservatoire du Littoral. The castle was bequeathed by D'Abbadie to the Academy of Sciences.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1984. Maison des Illustres.
Saint-Jean-de-Luz is an authentic town with a particularly rich past: the marriage of Louis XIV to the Infanta of Spain in 1660, marking the rapprochement between France and Spain, the privateers and the influence of maritime life have given this seaside resort all its character. With its gastronomy and its events, such as the Toro de Fuego which runs through the town in summer, its cultural and natural heritage with its five beaches, it offers a pleasant living environment to its inhabitants while at the same time becoming a popular place for tourists. Swimming on the large sandy beach in the magnificent bay is safe thanks to the three dykes built by Napoleon III to protect the port from storms: they are now part of the town's heritage. The economy is based on fishing resources. For a long time the leading sardine port in France, no less than 10,000 tonnes of different species of fish are marketed at the Saint-Jean-de-Luz/Ciboure fish auction every year, placing this auction in sixth place in terms of value out of thirty-six in France. The bay of Saint-Jean-de-Luz/Ciboure is listed as a Country of Art and History. It is the birthplace of footballer Bixente Lizarazu and TV journalist Anne-Sophie Lapix. It was also the birthplace of René Lacoste, one of the famous musketeers of French tennis, creator of the polo shirt and the crocodile brand.
St. John the Baptist Church
Construction: completed in 1685
History: the history of the church begins long before the marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa. As early as the 12th century, a Romanesque church surrounded the houses of the small town, built between the sea and the marshes (Luz comes from marsh in Basque). The remains of the 15th century Gothic church can still be seen today, while the windows date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1630, the town decided to enlarge the church, which had become too small for a town made prosperous by whaling, cod fishing and the West Indian trade. At the time of Louis XIV's wedding in 1660, the church was in the midst of construction. Of the old church, only the south wall and the bell tower remain. The last alterations date from the 19th century.
Characteristics: the most remarkable elements of the church are its baroque altarpiece, decorated with eighteen statues of saints, the antependium given by Louis XIV on the occasion of his wedding, and the organ, which is a twin of the one in Oloron Sainte-Marie cathedral. Several paintings are also listed.
A little history: it was around 1669 that the door known as "the door of Louis XIV's marriage" was walled up so that no other couple could use it. The city archives do not indicate whether the parish took this step on its own initiative or by order of the court.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1931.
Louis XIV House
History: Johannis de Lohobiague, mayor of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, heir to a large family of notables who were all at once shipowners, merchants and privateers, had a house built from 1643 onwards that was so sumptuous that it aroused the jealousy of one of his successors, who ten years later had the new Town Hall built against the previous one. In this house, from 8 May to 16 June 1660, the young Louis XIV was accommodated after his marriage, and then, in January 1701, Philip V of Spain, grandson of the King of France.
Characteristics: the residence is a quadrangular building with two main floors and an attic floor, flanked on the south side by two turrets and on the north side by two watchtowers framing the main façade, known as the Louis XIV façade. The decoration is concentrated on the second floor, where the most interesting rooms are: the dining room with panelling painted in the 17th or early 18th century with various scenes and ornaments; the kitchen, with its fireplace, its vegetable garden and its old shelves; the large bedroom, with the bed used by Louis XIV; the large sitting room, with the beginning of the clearing of its painted ceiling
Trivia: the Infanta Maria Theresa lived in the Joanoenia house (c. 1640), which was listed in 1992.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 2005.
Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle is a very large town, organised into districts. The village has experienced great historical events and was at the centre of the witch-hunt that hit the Basque Country in the 17th century. Beyond this disastrous period of persecution, orchestrated by the Bordeaux judge Pierre de Lancre, it was in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle that the chistera wicker glove was born. Today, Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle is a charming village with a lake that has become the main place for walks and activities. Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle was the start of the final time trial of the 2018 Tour, won in Espelette by Tom Dumoulin while Geraint Thomas consolidated his Yellow Jersey there on the eve of the finish in Paris.
The Pelota and Xistera Pilotari Ecomuseum
The chistera, the large wicker glove used to play Basque pelota, was born in the village of Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle. It was a thirteen-year-old boy who, seeing the elders making woven wicker baskets, had the idea of adapting it to make a large glove for playing pelota. These baskets are called Xistera in Basque. This new instrument was adopted by the best players of the time and new disciplines of Basque pelota appeared such as Cesta Punta. This story, as well as all the stories closely or distantly related to Basque pelota, are listed in the Basque Pelota and Xistera Ecomuseum.
In the French Basque Country, where the rivers Nive and Adour meet, Bayonne is a picturesque cultural city intertwined with green spaces and waterfront views.
The old town is overlooked by the gothic Cathédrale Sainte-Marie, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the surrounding streets and along the riverbanks, you can find more impressive architecture, delicious food, and interesting cultural attractions.
All of this offers visitors a taste of the charming Basque region. Nearby, you'll find the popular coastal town of Biarritz, with beautiful beaches and opportunities for surfing. These two contrasting destinations are just waiting to be explored.
Top 5 things to do in the French Basque Country:
1. Discover the history of the Basque region
2. Explore Bayonne's 3 main neighbourhoods
3. Join in the festivities during summer
4. Visit sparkling seaside town, Biarritz
5 Sample the favourite local delicacies
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