Exploring Southern France

This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.

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This area contains several locations we had considered visiting on previous trips to France, but for whatever reason, we did not get it done until this trip.

Southern France is a cultural and historical area, also known as the Nouvelle-Aquitaine région. It is known for its unique language, culture, and cuisine and is home to around 3 million people, and the majority of them speak the Basque language (also called Euskara or Euskera), which is unrelated to any other known language. We noticed (while driving) that all highway signs were always in 3 languages - for example in France, the signs would be in French, Basque and English. In Spain, the signs would be in Spanish, Basque and English.

Southern France is a beautiful region with a lot to offer visitors. The region is home to stunning mountains, picturesque villages, and charming coastal towns and is also known for its delicious food and wine. Some of the region's specialties include pintxos (small tapas), bacalao al pil-pil (cod in a garlic and chili sauce), and txakoli (a local sparkling wine).

The drive south from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the D-933 and N-135 highways we found to be not only beautiful, but challenging. The number of switchbacks that we encountered were frequent and almost always nearly a complete u-turn! The geography changed as we continued south and once we reached the foothills south of the Pyrenees, we found ourselves in Northern Spain near Pamplona.

Biarritz, France   Map

Above Image property of  M-le-mot-dit  via Wikimedia Commons using the  CC BY-SA 3.0 license. 
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.Villa Belza
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.Rocher de la Vierge Bridge
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.Boulevard du Prince Galles
 

Biarritz was our target destination after we completed our Dordogne River Valley exploration, and as we only stayed there one night, we did not take any imagery or video. Our goal was to relax, enjoy the beach view and get ready for the Spain adventure the next day. It is probable that we were missing our Florida beaches, and we thought we might be able to find some good seafood while there. We stayed at the Le Biarritz Hotel, just across the Rue de Madrid from Marbella Beach.

After we got checked into our Hotel, we hiked down the Rue de Madrid to where we were able to walk out to an overlook above (on the Impasse de Marbella) the Plage Marbella. There were a lot of surfers in the water, and quite a few surf schools & shops at that overlook location. The view from that height was beautiful and it felt really good not to be driving!

Biarritz has earned its reputation as the surfing capital of Europe. With its consistent waves and beautiful beaches like Côte des Basques and Grande Plage, it's no wonder surfers flock here. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a curious beginner, there are plenty of surf schools and board rentals available to get you riding the waves. After we checked into our room at the Le Biarritz Hotel, we walked over to the cliff above Marbella Beach and watched the local surfers having fun.

More Info for Biarritz 

Biarritz, a name synonymous with chic coastal charm, beckons travelers with its sun-drenched beaches, legendary surf breaks, and rich cultural heritage. Once a playground for European royalty, Biarritz retains an air of sophisticated elegance while offering a vibrant scene for adventure seekers and epicureans alike. Here are a few of the top things to do in Biarritz:

  • Are there good beaches in Biarritz? Biarritz is home to several beautiful beaches, including the Grande Plage, the Plage du Miramar, and the Plage de la Côte des Basques. The Grande Plage is the most popular beach in Biarritz, and it is a great place for swimming, sunbathing, and people-watching. The Plage du Miramar is a smaller and more secluded beach, perfect for those who want to escape the crowds. The Plage de la Côte des Basques is a popular spot for surfers, and it is also a great place to watch the sunset.
  • Is the surfing good in Biarritz? Biarritz is widely considered the birthplace of surfing in Europe. Côte des Basques, a stunning beach framed by dramatic cliffs, is a haven for surfers of all levels. Renowned surf schools offer lessons, and watching experienced surfers dance on the waves is a thrilling spectacle. There are a number of surf schools in Biarritz that offer lessons and rentals and there are a number of places where you can rent surfboards, here is a Google Search Results link for surf shops in Biarritz.
  • Visit the Rocher de la Vierge: The Rocher de la Vierge is a large rock formation located just off the coast of Biarritz. It is one of the most iconic landmarks in the town. Visitors can take a walk or a boat trip to the Rocher de la Vierge to enjoy the stunning views of Biarritz and the surrounding coastline.
  • Is Old Town Biarritz worth Visiting? The Old Town of Biarritz is a charming maze of narrow streets and alleyways. It is home to a number of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Visitors can also visit the St. Martin's Church, the oldest church in Biarritz.
  • Visit the Musée de la Mer: The Musée de la Mer is a museum dedicated to the marine life of the Bay of Biscay. Visitors can learn about the different species of fish, shellfish, and other marine creatures that live in the bay. The museum also has a number of interactive exhibits, making it a great place for kids to visit.
  • Is there a Biarritz Wikipedia Article? Yes, and it is an excellent place to start if you want to improve your knowledge of Biarritz. Here is the link to the Wikipedia Article..
  • Where should I stay in Biarritz? Here is a link to a Google Search Results list of accommodations.
  • Where should I eat in Biarritz? Here is a link to a Google Search Results list for restaurants.
  • The Top 10 Restaurants in Biarritz according to "The Fork" Website: Here is a link to their website, good descriptions in their list.
  • Biarritz Google Images Set: Here is a link to the Google Images Page.
  • Biarritz Guided Walking & Gourmet Tour from "Get Your Guide" Here is the link to the Google Images Page.
  • Is there public parking in Biarritz? Yes, however, Biarritz is an older city, spread out alongside the Bay of Biscayne and it gets crowded during the summer. Here is the link to a Google Map displaying where you can find public parking.
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France       Map
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.

We had planned to visit Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port ever since we began to plan this trip. We had strongly considered taking the Camino Frances and had researched this village several times in depth, however my health got in the way of us taking that adventure. In any event, driving through here on the way to Spain was a quick and easy decision. Besides wanting to explore the village, we were excited about crossing the Pyrenees Mountains.

The town's name translates to "St. John at the Foot of the Pass," a reference to its strategic location on the ancient Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port serves as the traditional starting point for pilgrims embarking on the Camino Frances, a journey that spans 900+ kilometers across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

Nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, it serves as a gateway to the Camino Frances, a historic pilgrimage route leading to the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

The town itself is a postcard-worthy vision, with its narrow cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, and a formidable citadel that stands as a testament to its medieval history. The Porte St-Jacques, the iconic town gate, welcomes pilgrims and visitors alike. You can explore the town's charming boutiques, savor Basque cuisine at local restaurants, and soak up the peaceful ambiance of this historic place.

More Info for Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 

Pau, France       Map
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.
This page contains all other locations that we visited after we had completed our Loire & Dordogne Valley and Northern Spain explorations. We selected a diverse set of destinations to satisfy our curiousity and to enjoy locations that we had not previously seen.

Stopping here was not part of our original planning, but as we motored east on the A-64 (headed to Lourdes) we realized that it was lunch time and Pau was going to be the largest city until we got to Lourdes. As French restaurants are open for lunch from noon to 2PM, we knew we'd better stop somewhere, and then maybe do some exploration before getting back onto the A-64. Otherwise we'd wind up eating "light"!

Pau, located in the beautiful region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine in southwestern France, is a city that combines historical charm, natural beauty, and a touch of elegance. This vibrant city, often referred to as the "Green City" or "Garden City," is framed by the breathtaking backdrop of the Pyrenees Mountains.

One of the city's most notable landmarks is the Château de Pau, a stunning medieval castle that was once the birthplace of King Henry IV of France. Visitors can explore its ornate rooms and immerse themselves in French royal history. The castle is surrounded by lush gardens and offers panoramic views of the city and the mountains beyond.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be able to appreciate Pau's proximity to the Pyrenees, offering opportunities for hiking, skiing, and other mountain activities. With its rich history, natural beauty, and warm ambiance, Pau is a delightful destination for travelers seeking a taste of French culture and the splendor of the Pyrenean landscape.

More Info for Pau, France 

Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, France       Map

Toulouse-Blagnac Airport was our departure point for our return to England, and we had previously decided to spend a part of the day at the Airbus Museum adjacent to the airport. Photography was not allowed inside the museum, but we can honestly say that the visit was interesting and we were able to board and explore the Airbus A-380 as well as an Air France Concorde.

NOTE: The above image is the property of Gyrostat via Wikimedia Commons using the CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.

The first column below ("All Trip Destinations") lists all of our major trip destinations (for this trip) and the next four columns list each of our trip "basecamps" and then a list of what we explored from that basecamp. Each destination name is linked to it's page - so all you need to do is click that name.

 

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