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Jul 18, 2014 05:13 PM

Biarritz or Bayonne?

We have about a day and a half to swing through the French Basque country. We are leaning toward Bayonne and skipping Biarritz--no time to see both. Thoughts? I found very few threads here on Bayonne. Is there a pintxos culture like in the Spanish Basque country? We will have had a number of restaurant meals by this point in our trip, and a pintxos crawl or a picnic or something along those lines sounds like a nice change.

Should I mention we love seafood, in any form.

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  1. It would help if you tell us that you are swinging from point A to point B. Bayonne is real while Biarritz is, in my experience, more touristy. There is wonderful stuff both along the coast and inland. Given your coordinates, I am sure hounds will come up with great suggestions for either crawl or picnic. It is one of our favorite areas.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mangeur

      Since we have a car, we are flexible with our route ... but not too flexible with our time, I'm afraid. We will be arriving from Rivehaut, where my wife's cousin lives. From Bayonne, we will be driving north up to Brittany. (I know it's a lot for one trip, but a Yank's got to do what a Yank's got to do.)

    2. I find Bayonne very vibrant,with lots of good eats. I go to the Basque country every year. I always revisit Bayonne, and not so much Biarritz.
      Culturally Bayonne is much more Basque than Biarritz.
      If you have a day and a half, you can base yourself in Bayonne and spend half a day in St Jean de Luz-Ciboure, which I find more charming and more walkable. Plus that St Jean de Luz market (check days).
      If you are coming from or going to Spanish Basque country like San Sebastian or Bilbao, you may want to reserve your pintxos crawl there. It is a most enjoyable "walking tasting menu".
      If the dates are right, and the weather works out, yes, do get picnic stuff from the markets in Bayonne or St Jean de Luz or Ciboure and picnic. My fave picnic spot is the Socoa beach in Ciboure, with a view of the Atlantic and the St Jean de Luz Bay.
      Indeed it would be nice to know where you are coming from , where you are going, if you have a car even. That changes a lot.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Parigi

        Excellent advice. Thank you. I have seen your replies in other threads about this region and hoped you would reply. Let me know if the facts in my reply to mangeur change any of your advice.

        Since we will not be visiting Spain, we very much would like to get a taste of pintxos, even if it is not as much a part of the region's culture as it is over the border.