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Biarritz & the Atlantic Pyrenees JLB20

Resort:Biarritz & the Atlantic Pyrenees JLB20
Operator: Great Rail Journeys
Destination: Europe, France
Price From: £1445.00

Overview

Superb sandy beaches, a mild climate, and a delightful ocean
promenade have drawn visitors to Biarritz for years. We see the
region’s lovely coastal resorts and the mighty Pyrenees, all the
while soaking in unique Basque heritage.

Highlights

  • Guided tour of Biarritz
  • St Jean-de-Luz
  • La Rhune Mountain Railway
  • Bayonne
  • San Sebastin
  • Stunning 4-Star Accommodation

whats Included

  • Standard Class Rail
  • 4* Hotel Accommodation
  • NEW Inclusive Luggage Transfer
  • 6 nights’ hotel accommodation in the 4-Star Radisson Blu Hotel in Biarritz
  • Inclusive luggage transfers throughout 1x bag up to 25kg per hotel room (size and weight may vary)
  • To arrange for a second suitcase up to 25kg (size and weight may vary) – prices start from £65 per bag. Just let us know at time of booking.
  • Standard Class rail travel throughout
  • All rail and coach transfers
  • The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
  • Exclusive meeting point at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras

Itinerary

Day 1 – London to Biarritz

We meet at our dedicated Departure Office in London St Pancras,
before joining the Eurostar to Paris.

On arrival in the French capital we transfer across the city to
connect with our onward high-speed TGV rail service to Biarritz.
This stylish town overlooking the rocky Atlantic Coast rose to
prominence in the mid- 19th century, when Napoleon entertained both
the French aristocracy and the crowned heads of Europe along its
golden beach front. Today Biarritz retains much of its effortless
glamour, flanked by alluring Belle Epoque townhouses and Art Deco
buildings in its historic core. We spend the next six nights in the
town at the 4-Star Htel Mercure Biarritz Centre Plaza, which
enjoys a superb location overlooking the ocean.

Day 2 – Guided tour of Biarritz

This morning we begin our stay in Biarritz with a guided
sightseeing tour. With its rich and varied history, the town boasts
many arresting landmarks; these include the striking Russian
Orthodox church, where Russian nobility were frequent visitors
until the Soviet Revolution of 1917.

We also see the famous casino, and of course the Grande Plage or
‘Great Beach’, where people have come to admire the sparkling sea
views for well over a century. Your afternoon is then free for you
to explore at your leisure. Perhaps follow in the footsteps of
former regulars such as Queen Victoria, Frank Sinatra and Ernest
Hemingway, and unwind on Biarritz’s famous promenade. Otherwise,
you could relax on the four miles of beaches fringing the town, or
find a charming seafront caf and watch the world go by.

Day 3 – San Sebastin

Today we travel by coach across the Spanish border to San
Sebastin. With its unique blend of Spanish, French and
Basque-influenced architecture, this wonderful city is widely
regarded as one of Spain’s most elegant resorts set within the
fashionable and famous La Concha Bay, which has deep, calm waters
and a stunning beach area. Whilst here we enjoy a tapas lunch
together, in the delightful Old Quarter. Tapas is an important part
of San Sebastin’s celebrated cuisine, and we sample some of the
many ‘pintxos’ – or dishes – on offer.

Afterwards you are free to explore at leisure – you may like to
visit the grand Miramar Palace, a former summer residence of the
Spanish monarchy. You may wish to stroll up Monte Igudelo, the
nearby summit overlooks the tranquil waters of the bay and provides
fantastic views of sprawling San Sebastin and the nearby area,
continue around the bay and visit the beguiling ‘Combs of the
Wind’, an iron sculpture designed by artist Eduardo Chillida,
embedded in the rocks.

Alternatively, the San Telmo Museum provides an interesting
insight into local life and the history of the San Sebastin area,
including local artworks and the architectural history of the city
over the years. You may also wish to visit one of the local
wineries. Otherwise, you could relax on the pretty promenade, or on
one of the unspoilt beaches curving around the graceful bay. Behind
the city are lush rolling hills that have drawn celebrities and sun
lovers to the mild winters and hot summers for generations. The
picturesque island of Santa Clara is situated just off shore, in
the centre of La Concha Bay. The island is home to one of the
area’s prettiest beaches, although due to the tides it can only be
used for part of the day. Santa Clara can be accessed by boat –
although many of the locals will simply swim across from the
beach.

Day 4 – La Rhune Mountain Railway & St Jean-de-Luz

On today’s excursion we travel by coach to Col de Saint-Ignace,
where we connect with the superb Petit Train de la Rhune. This
classic rack-and-pinion railway takes us through the dramatic
Atlantic Pyrenees in lovingly restored wooden carriages –
overcoming a height difference of 2,415ft during the journey. The
route takes us through steep-sided rocky valleys, with a fabulous
panorama over the rolling meadows and impressive foothills of the
nearby Basque region.

Before long we arrive at the summit of La Rhune, which not only
marks the border between France and Spain, but at 3,000ft also
offers a magnificent panorama over the Bay of Biscay. After time to
admire the views, we descend the mountain, then continue by coach
to the lively fishing port of St Jean-de-Luz. Here you have a
little time to explore; perhaps take a stroll along the promenade,
and watch the charming fishing boats bring their catch back to the
sheltered harbour. Otherwise, the medieval centre is a delight to
wander around. We enjoy a three-course lunch with wine in a
restaurant in St Jean de-Luz before returning to Biarritz.

Day 5 – At leisure in Biarritz

Today is free for you to spend at your leisure. The resort, with
its sweeping promenade and vast beaches, offers a range of
activities for you to enjoy. You might like to try your luck in the
casino, or visit the town’s lighthouse. If you’re feeling
energetic, you could perhaps take a stroll past the atmospheric Old
Port to the Rocher de la Vierge, a statue on a rocky headland said
to protect the safe return of local fishermen, now connected to the
town by a footbridge. Other popular options include the Aquarium,
which is home to an incredible menagerie of underwater creatures,
as well as an informative exhibition on Biarritz’s whaling past.
Perhaps you may like to visit the Asiatica Museum, which houses a
significant collection of Asian art primarily from India, Nepal,
Tibet and China.

The town of Biarritz also contains a delightful chocolate
museum, whereby you can learn the history and manufacture of this
sweet confectionery. Much of the architecture is influenced by
Empress Eugenie, the Chapelle Imperiale, with its intricate roof
design and elegant wall tilings, was built in her name. The former
Empress was also responsible for the commission of the beach-front
palace, now redesigned as the Hotel du Palais.

Days 6 – Bayonne

This morning we visit nearby Bayonne, one of the region’s
lesser-known gems. Nestled around the River Adour, the town is
crowned by its beautiful Gothic cathedral, which towers over the
quaint tangle of narrow streets that surround it. Located close to
the Spanish border, Bayonne is a city with many different cultural
influences affecting it and is split effectively into two parts by
the Rivers Adour and Nive then linked back together by a series of
five bridges. There is Grand Bayonne, which holds the bulk of the
city’s commercial and civic concerns, and Petit Bayonne, where the
Basque culture is most evident, and where the bars and restaurants
have flamboyant Spanish ambience and flavour.

Bayonne is truly a city of art and culture, where art lovers can
see great masterpieces by painters such as Goya, Degas and
Botticelli in the Muse Bonnat, and those whose interests lie in
history will not be disappointed by the collections of Basque
history on show in the Muse Basque. We discover more of Bayonne on
a guided walking tour of the centre, in which we also see the
historic fortifications and the tall timber-framed dwellings,
adorned with red-painted shutters. Following the tour you are free
to continue exploring at your own pace. You may wish to visit the
informative Basque Museum, detailing the history of this ancient
autonomous area, stroll through the beautiful Jardin Botanique,
vivid and verdant gardens exhibiting styles and plant species from
all across the globe or maybe just enjoy lunch in one of Bayonne’s
superb riverside restaurants. Back in Biarritz this evening, we
enjoy a farewell dinner together.

Day 7 – Return to London

We travel to Paris by high-speed rail today and join the
Eurostar service back to London St Pancras International.