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Biarritz and the Atlantic Pyrenees

4.3 stars(10 reviews)

A rail tour discovering unique Basque culture

7 days Sold out

2020 Tour code: JLB20

About the tour

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.


What’s included


Day 1 - London to Biarritz

Meet your group and Tour Manager 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 Hôtel Mercure Biarritz Centre Plaza, which enjoys a superb location overlooking the ocean.

  • Dinner
Eurostar at St Pancras
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 café and watch the world go by.

  • Breakfast
Day 3 - San Sebastián

Today we travel by coach across the Spanish border to San Sebastián. 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 Sebastián'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 Sebastián 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 Sebastián 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.

  • Breakfast, Lunch
San Sebastian
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.

  • Breakfast, Lunch
La Rhune Railway
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.

  • Breakfast
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 Musée Bonnat, and those whose interests lie in history will not be disappointed by the collections of Basque history on show in the Musée 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.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
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.

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Recommended airports

For this tour, we recommend arriving to, and departing from, London Gatwick or London Heathrow airport (LGW or LHR). London Gatwick is approximately 30 miles from your start and end point, and London Heathrow is approximately 19 miles from your start and end point.

Airport waiting room
Visa Requirements

It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.


Radisson Blu Hotel, Biarritz

Radisson Blu Hotel, Biarritz

View hotel


La Rhune Mountain Railway


4.3 stars4.3 / 5 · 10 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star

Mr K Berridge

5 stars

Submitted 13 Jul 2019

Great tour almost ruined by the chaotic and badly planned journey home

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs P Lavender

5 stars

Submitted 18 Oct 2018

Enjoyable tour. Loved Biarritz and the area. Good central hotel. Trips out & about were very good and allowed us time back in Biarritz to sample restaurants/bars/beaches and shops. Only suggestion, that we had too long in Bayonne on our last afternoon. After we had lunch, shops were closed and we had to kill time until our return coach at 3.45. Glad we finally did this trip after a few years thinking about it.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr D Pink

3 stars

Submitted 29 Sep 2018

Food at hotel was poor - breakfast often cold, poor choice. The customs process at the station in Paris was a shambles, too few people the group was split up several times and the queue for clearing cases - only two channels open - were endless. Very stressful, but not your fault. Biarritz was terrific!

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr J Hartley

4 stars

Submitted 15 Jul 2018

With rail connections disrupted we thought that the outward and return journeys had been very well organised via Bordeaux.. The facilities at the Hotel Radisson were excellent.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs B Noel

4 stars

Submitted 04 Nov 2017

Virgo husband - EXTREMELY hard to please

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr W Stewart

4 stars

Submitted 14 Oct 2017

First class tour guide. Enjoyed the tour very much.Only gripe was the extra charge for our room.Was double what others paid.Supposed to be a sea view.Most of view blocked by building in front.Expect hotel to reimburse me for high charge.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Show all 10 reviews