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Discover our must-haves

Let yourself be transported between the waves of the Atlantic Ocean and the majestic peaks of the Pyrenees.

In a nutshell:

Itxassou and Pas de Roland (5 minutes from Cambo-les-Bains),

Espelette (10 minutes from Cambo-les-Bains),

Ainhoa (15 minutes from Cambo-les-Bains),

Sare (25 minutes from Cambo-les-Bains),

La Rhune (30 minutes from Cambo-les-Bains),

La Bastide-Clairence (25 minutes from Cambo-les-Bains),

Baigura (30 minutes from Cambo-les-Bains),

L’Ursuya (20 minutes from Cambo-les-Bains),

The Isturitz and Oxocelhaya caves (25 minutes from Cambo-les-Bains).

Itxassou & the Pas de Roland

The village of Itxassou, Cambo’s first neighbor, has many treasures to discover. Bourg typically Basqueverdant valleys, a listed 17th-century church and mountains as far as the eye can see are just some of the things you’ll find here.

Cherries also have a special place here, having been produced for centuries. Production, which was relaunched a few years ago, involves a number of different varieties:

  • the Peloa: a black cherry that ripens at the end of May, with a sweet tendency
  • Xapata: a rosier cherry with a tangier taste, ripens in early June
  • Beltxa: dark black cherry that ripens in early to mid-June

Every year at the beginning of June, the cherry is celebrated during a festive weekend punctuated by traditional events: pelota demonstrations, mutxiko (Basque dances), Basque strength, a meal with local music… It’s also an opportunity to buy cherries directly from the producers.

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Retrace history by walking the “Pas de Roland” ! Accessible to all thanks to its gentle gradient and tarmac road, this 3 km round trip takes you along the Nive river and its gorges. At the end of the path, you’ll come to a rock formation with a narrow passageway: this is the famous Pas de Roland!

There are several legends surrounding this place, the most popular of which tells how Roland, Charlemagne’s nephew, and his army found themselves stranded on this rock. So, to clear a path, Roland brandished his Durandal sword and carved a passage.

Espelette

Internationally renowned for the spice that bears its name, the village of Espelette is more than just its chilli pepper.. It was founded by the noble Ezpeleta family, whose castle, now home to the tourist office and town hall, still stands proudly a stone’s throw from the market square. Today, Espelette is a village whose main street is lined with numerous boutiques, ideal for an afternoon’s shopping.

As is often the case in the region, Espelette is a sprawling village with much more to it than just the town itself. So don’t hesitate to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city center and head for thechurch of Saint-Etienne, just a few minutes’ walk away.

If you have a bit of time on your hands, the Circuit des famillestakes 2 hours and departs from Espelette market square. This easy route is ideal for those looking for an accessible walk with a low altitude difference (140 meters). It will enable you to discover various aspects of the ezpeletar heritage, such as architecture, chilli cultivation and pastoralism.

Did you know?

Piment d’Espelette – ezpeletako biperra in Basque – is not originally French.

Arriving from America, and more precisely from Mexico, via the expeditions of the first great explorers, no one really knows how the pimento ended up in the village of Espelette, where there is evidence of its cultivation as early as 1650.

It was women who started growing it, to replace pepper, which was too expensive at the time. Chillies were used to season and preserve local meats and hams. Their rigorous selection of chilli seeds for future sowings gave rise to the GORRIA variety, the only farm-saved seed considered to be the original Piment d’Espelette variety.

Now a Protected Designation of Origin, Piment d’Espelette must be “produced, processed and packaged within the geographical area”, which covers10 communes: Ainhoa, Cambo-les-Bains, Espelette, Itxassou, Halsou, Larressore, Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle, Souraïde, Ustaritz and Jatxou.

Every year in October, the Espelette chili pepper is honored at a gastronomic and craft fair held on the last weekend of the month. For two days, activities are in full swing, allowing visitors to discover different facets of Basque heritage: Basque dances, a male choir concert, a lively meal…

Ainhoa

Situated a stone’s throw from the Navarrese border, Ainhoa is one of France’s most beautiful villages”.. Founded in the 13th century, this bastide-street was designed to welcome pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The village features a wide main street with typical Labourdin-style houses with red and white facades on either side.

If you take a closer look at the facades of these houses, you’ll see various inscriptions above the entrances. In many cases, these lintels can be used to find out more about these old buildings, such as when they were built or who owned them.

While you’re in Ainhoa, take the opportunity to explore the villages that make up the Xareta Valley! In addition to Ainhoa, three towns on either side of the border make up this valley: Sare, and the Navarrese towns of Urdax and Zugarramurdi. A hotbed of smuggling, for a long time the Basques crossed the border to smuggle goods: alcohol, tobacco, food, animals…

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Get some height!

Take a gravel path from the village to the summit of Atsulai and discover the chapel dedicated to Notre Dame de l’Aubépine, or Aranzazu in Basque. It’s a 45-minute walk to the summit, which rises to 389m. Once at the top, you can enjoy the view of the Pyrenees mountains. A hike calledBistaeder“(8.6 km. – 450 m. ascent – 3 hrs. walk) also takes you up to the top of the mountain, along a magnificent exposed balcony path.

Sare

Classified as one of the “most beautiful villages in France”, Sare is a charming village nestled along the Pyrenees.Sare is a charming village nestled along the Pyrenees mountain range. Organized around its square with pediment, church and town hall, it’s a perfect example of the typical Basque village layout. The main square hosts a weekly farmers’ market every Thursday morning from May to September.

Sare has a rich, multi-faceted built heritage.

If you’d like to discover the characteristic architecture of the Labourd province, head for the Ortillopitz house. This building allows you to delve into the history of the Basque Country, revealing a part of Basque culture where the etxe (house in Basque) plays a central role.

Sare is home to some unusual geological formations, the Sare caves. A 45-minute guided tour, complete with sound and light, is open to all, allowing visitors to discover this natural site nestled in the bowels of the Atxuria mountain. As well as learning more about the site’s geological features, the tour also describes how one of the rooms was inhabited by prehistoric man.

Last but not least, the natural heritage of the village of Sare is also very rich, with numerous hiking trails.

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From the Sare caves parking lot, take the path behind the caves and start your ascent the ascent to the Atxuria summita 3-hour walk (7.2 km – 620 m. ascent). Come and meet some of the goats, half-wild goats and griffon vultures that seem to particularly appreciate the area. The hike offers magnificent views over the village of Zugarramurdi, known as the village of witches.

Pack a picnic lunch or stop off at the sheepfold-bar (Loretxoa – please note random opening times!) along the way, where you can sit at one of the stone tables and sample local produce.

La Rhune

This peak, called “Larrun” in Basque, rises to 905 meters and offers a 360° view of the Basque Country and the Atlantic Ocean. Its wildlife and flora are an integral part of the landscape.

It’s impossible to talk about La Rhune without mentioning the little train that takes you to the summit. In operation since 1924, this rack-and-pinion train makes the ascent in 35 minutes from the Col de Saint-Ignace in Sare. Once at the top, you have 1 hour and 20 minutes to enjoy the breathtaking sc enery, whether taking part in a guided tour or sipping a drink in one of the summit’s three restaurants.

For the more sporty, La Rhune is also the ideal terrain for hikers. There are several routes to the summit, notably from the village of Ascain.

Practical information

The Rhune train runs from April to November.

The Cambo-les-Bains Tourist Office does not sell tickets for La Rhune. We therefore advise you to book your tickets on the official website: www.rhune.com

Be sure to check the weather forecast and don’t book your tickets too far in advance. They are non-exchangeable and non-refundable, even in bad weather.

Photo of the Rhune train Basque Country

La Bastide-Clairence

The founding of the village originally known as Bastida Clarenza dates back to the Middle Ages. In the 13th century, Navarre needed access to the ocean, so it built a port on the Joyeuse river, a tributary of the Adour. To protect this territory, Louis X “le Hutin” founded a town on the border with Labourd.

Characterized by its Place des Arceaux and the colorful half-timbered houses that line it, the town has a very special charm. Its trinquet, originally designed for the Jeu de Paume, dates back to 1513 and is one of the oldest in France. Little altered since it was built, its construction is linked to the presence of noble families in the commune, who fulfilled important judicial, police and commercial functions.

Historic remains such as the17th-century Saint-Nicolas church bear witness to Bastide Clairence’s rich past. The Israelite cemetery still present in the commune was dedicated to the community of Portuguese Jews who settled in the village between the early 17th and late 18th centuries.

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To discover Bastide-Clairence, stroll through its streets and enjoy the scenery.

You’ll be able to admire the old houses in Labourdin or Navarrese style, the church, the old Jewish cemetery, as well as numerous craft stores!

For many years, the commune has encouraged the installation of art craftsmen, making it the ideal place to discover exceptional skills. Stroll through the streets and you’ll come across all sorts of creations: macaroons, leather goods, jewelry, luthiers…

Lhe Baigura

The Baigura massif rises to 897 meters and is an ideal playground for nature lovers. Situated between Labourd and Basse Navarre, the summit rises proudly and provides a spectacular backdrop to the region.

Outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to the charms of this mountain where a variety of activities can be enjoyed: paragliding, mountain biking, climbing or hiking… Whether you’re looking for peaceful trails or more daring sporting challenges, the Baigura offers challenges to suit all levels.

These activities are proposed with respect for the environment and agropastoralism, which is well established on the summit. In fact, you’re sure to spot sheep and pottok on your trip up the mountain.

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At the foot of the massif, in the commune of Mendionde, the Base de Loisirs du Baigura offers a wide range of activities to discover the area.

These include the small tractor train, which carries up to 40 people in two carriages. It first stops mid-slope at the entrance to a discovery trail, then serves the summit.

The discovery trail offers two walks of 2 or 3 hours each, enabling you to discover the mountain’s geology, fauna and flora, as well as its history!

L’Ursuya

From its height of 678 metres, Mount Ursuya, or Urtsua, Basque for ” mountain of springs”, overlooks the province of Labourd. Located not far from the villages of Hasparren, Macaye and Mendionde, there are a number of hiking trails to the summit. The well-marked trails offer a gradual ascent, rewarded by breathtaking panoramic views of the Basque countryside, rolling green hills and even the Pyrenean peaks in the background.

Ursuya is accessible to visitors of all hiking levels. Whether you’re an occasional walker or a mountain enthusiast, the variety of trails means that everyone can discover the beauty of this mountain at their own pace. It’s an ideal summit for a first mountain experience.

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During your hike on the Ursuyayou’ll have the chance to cross paths with rustic horses living in a semi-wild state. These are our famous ” Pottok “. This term means “little horse” in Basque, and is pronounced “pottioc” (the plural in Basque is pottokak).

Mountain Pottoks live freely on the Rhune, Artzamendi, Baigura and Ursuya ranges, in small groups of around 15 individuals. They belong to breeders, who deworm and deworm them once or twice a year, and check the births in their herds.

Isturitz and Oxocelhaya caves

Located in the communes of Isturitz and Saint Martin d’Arbéroue, not far from Hasparren, the hill of Gaztelu is home to a series of superimposed caves: Isturitz & Oxocelhaya.

The 600-metre route allows you to discover 2 caves with very different shows The first, at Isturitz, tells the story of the daily lives of its inhabitants (the first was the Neanderthals) through the remains of their occupationswhile the other, Oxocelhaya, 15 metres lower down, is a a veritable mineral cathedralcomposed of millennia-old concretions in a variety of shapes. The caves have been classified as an historic monument since 1953.

One of the most exceptional discoveries is the presence of prehistoric rock art. The walls of the caves are decorated with engravings and paintings, some of which date back to the Paleolithic era. We find a multitude of signs, drawings of bison or horses…

The Isturitz and Oxocelhaya caves are located in the heart of an unspoilt natural environment. The green hills and rugged beauty of the Basque Country surround these caves, creating the ideal setting for an underground adventure.

Practical information

In hot weather, the caves are quickly overcrowded.

We recommend that you book your visit in advance at www.grottes-isturitz.com