Pyrénées Atlantiques

 

 

As indicated in their official name, Pyrénées Atlantiques are nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees range in the south west corner of France. As a consequence of this blessed geography, Pyrénées Atlantiques enjoy a great lifestyle, probably one of the most pleasant in France. Being oceanic the climate is mild in winter; being southern it is very warm and sunny in summer. But the climate is far from being the only appeal of Pyrénées Atlantiques.

Although the second smallest department of the Aquitaine region, Pyrérées Atlantiques are a big country in terms of landscapes diversity. It is rare in France to find so many different sceneries in such a tiny space. Therefore, this part of the Basque country (‘Pays Basque’ in French or ‘Euskadi’ in Basque), Pyrenees Atlantiques offer 3 different lifestyles in a small area along with authenticity and a true cultural specificity. It is a very sought after destination among the French themselves but has remained genuine. It is trendy and easy going at a time, rural and urban, opened to foreign influences but with a strong identity, in short a very welcoming and endearing country.

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A magnificent coastline

 

The magnificent atlantic coastline covers miles with family friendly beaches in Hendaye or Saint Jean de Luz, or sportive beaches in Bidart & Anglet which are renowned surfing paradise and shelter each year in September events of the Surfing World cup. You can enjoy the coastline more peacefully taking a stroll along the “Sentier du Littoral” (coastal path) which connects Bidart to Hendaye and offers dramatic views of the Atlantic. The coastline shelters such villages as Bidart, Guéthary, Ciboure, picturesque without being purpose -built tourist villages and true cities like the cosmopolitan trendy-showy off Biarritz or the smaller and deliberately old fashioned Saint Jean de Luz, shelter of distinguished old families.

A beautiful countryside

 

The Basque country boasts not only a dramatic coastline but also an interesting countryside with as many as eleven legendary golf courses offering great views either of the Ocean or of the Pyrenees, picturesque landscapes with stunning views of the Pyrenees and their soft  foothills, charming little villages with out of season life, such as La Bastide-Clairence, Sare and Aïnhoa, three of the “Plus beaux villages de France” (Prettiest villages of France), Espelette reknowned for its red pepper drying on the houses facades, Itsassou and its black cherries marmalade, Biriatou… and many others with always the cherished and well perpetuated traditional basque architecture. The soil here is fertile and well watered thanks to the proximity of the mountains thus offering a rich emerald green landscape of meadows and maize fields even in the hottest of summer.

Pyrenees range

 

Being at one end of the Pyrenees range the department also boasts many outdoors activities. Just 60km from Pau, administrative capital of Pyrenees Atlantiques, ski resorts of La Pierre Saint Martin, Gourette and Artouste offer ski slopes, as well as snow-shoeing, rides in husky drawn sledge in winter and hiking, climbing, rafting, canoeing, kayaking or simply fishing in summer. For those who prefer a less sportive approach to mountains, you can enjoy a stunning view on both Ocean and Pyrenean range from the Rhune mountain which is accessible by a funny little train or visit Saint Jean Pied de Port, its Vauban build citadel and stroll along its narrow paved streets.

Golfers' paradise

With 11 legendary golf courses all within close vicinity combined with spectacular views, luxurious surroundings and year round opportunities, there are endless possibilities to your game. Whether beginner or professional, there is something to suit all desires and you’re spoiled for choice : Arcangues, an extreme test of skill, with a spectacular view of the Pyrenees. Biarritz Le Phare, the true values and traditions of golf, ever faithful to the British spirit. Chantaco prestigious golf course on the outskirts of enchanting Saint Jean de Luz. Chiberta, one of the great classics, lying by the finest beaches and dunes of Anglet. Epherra, as rustic as it is exquisite, near the typical basque village of Espelette. Ilbarritz, a 9 hole challenging training course overlooking the glittering ocean, just south of Biarritz. La Nivelle, a wooded and undulating course which requires technical skill, outside of St Jean de Luz. Makila Golf Club in Bassussary, a stunningly natural and convivial course. Salies de Bearn : a short but technically demanding course, in the heart of quiet Bearn. Pau Golf Club, the oldest golf course in continental Europe since 1856. Golf Blue Green of Pau Artiguelouve, a challenging course, at the foot of the Pyrenees

Close to buyoant Spain

One of the advantages of buying a French property near one of the French borders is that you can have a double ‘foreign fix’ for the same price! This is particularly true in French Pays Basque which is so close to its Spanish counterpart for cultural and linguistics reasons. Even if part of the same cultural entity (“Euskadi” meaning basque country in Basque) the Spanish side of the Basque country differs from the French one. Less of a tourist destination and more industrial it boasts big cities with different interest. Among them you have Bilbao and its stunning Guggenheim museum, or San Sebastian with its Belle Epoque architecture and charming bay. If you are more of the outdoor type, Navarra will offer you plenty of activities in a wonderful and unexpected scenery of arid mountains (or how to visit Colorado while staying in the Pyrenees!) … and thanks to aridity, great wines!