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Paris to St. Sebastian through the Basque

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Traveling from Paris to the basque region on April 2015, looking for help to plan our trip. We have allocated 10 days for the trip, including traveling from Paris to St. Sebastian and back. We are planning to include 5 days hiking in the Basque mountains as part of this trip. Looking for help and tips including: how to get there (driving or combining train and drive), hiking tours and places to stay in the Basque mountains, St. Sebastian and other recommended sights

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  1. Instead of doing the long drive from north to south of France, you can take the high speed train from Paris to Biarritz or St Jean de Luz, then rent a car.

    With 10 days, I would make a base out of Ciboure, from which to explore coast and that part of the Pyrenees (you are so close to the border that this exploration of the Pyrenees will take you crossing and recrossing the borders all the time).
    Then 3 days based in San Sebastian, including a day trip to Bilbao.

    You can look up reports by Laidback and Phild, with lots of great recommendations on that very itinerary.

    My fave restaurnats there are:
    - Olhabidea outside Sare (one of my fave restos in the world)
    - Chez Mattin in Ciboure
    - Kaiku in St Jean de Luz
    - Arcé in the breathtaking Aldudes valley
    - Chez Margot on the Socoa beach in Ciboure, for the nice casual eats and a great view.
    Must reserve.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Thanks Parigi for your quick and detailed reply
      Any tips on hiking areas? villages in the mountains with hiking trails, accommodation, places to eat?

      1. re: heni1

        "Any tips on hiking areas? villages in the mountains with hiking trails,"

        I walk, I don't hike, sorriest.
        Two Pyreneees areas have beautiful villages and (seem to) have lots of hiking trails around:
        - the village of Sare and its surrounding area
        - the Aldudes valley, which, food-wise, all the way down to Spanish Navarra, is well known for its charcuterie production.

        "accommodation,"

        The mods have a shit fit if we get into hiking and accommodation. I can recommend the ferme-auberge Olhabidea outside Sare, which has great food, as I recommended above.

        "places to eat?"

        Uh, am I hallucinating? Didn't I just do that in the last reply ?

        1. re: Parigi

          yes you did with restaurants list on your first reply...
          We also walk no hike (sorry for the Australian way of saying it...)
          will certainly look at ferme-auberge Olhabidea and the two villages you have recommended

          1. re: heni1

            Olhabidea is a lovely sprawling big house - it's a farm-b&b-restaurant - with a large garden, including a potager whose vegetables are served in the restaurant. It has only 5 rooms, all very nice.
            I always prefer to rent a house with a kitchen, and will do so this September, in the village of Sare. I will gladly share the link to that house rental if you let me know your email address.

            1. re: Parigi

              A house in the village of Sare sounds with a kitchen sounds wonderful. We also love to do some shopping at the local market and make ourselves a quick, fresh meal with local ingredients (not to say that on top of it dinning out in a local restaurants is a regular daily routine...)
              our email address: heni1@iprimus.com.au
              Thanks!

              1. re: Parigi

                Since this is a party-line, I've been listening in. My public email is "mangeursf@yahoo.com". Your house sounds wonderful! :)

      2. Best to consult a specialist guide for the many many hikes in the area (trail heads are typically located off tiny hamlets and quite a few are graded for experienced hikers only).

        A good one accessible from just before St. Etienne de Baigorry is the Iparla ridge circular route, which takes perhaps 5 hours, parts of it steep, but the largest section quite easy- going, on a spectacular ridge with superb views of Spain and France on either side.

        Also accessible from St. Etienne is the road up and down col d'Espeguy, full of hairpin turns and great views, emerging on the Spanish side, from which you can return to Ainhoa on the French side, perhaps an hour's drive in all.

        Also near St. Etienne, is an excellent spot for Sunday lunch, Ferme Landaburia, great product, somewhat modern cooking and in nice weather, a shaded terrace with bucolic views.