Basque Country of Spain and France by Rail

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Dates
  • Travel Editions

You'll love this tour if you like:

  • Rich, unique culture and history
  • Delicious regional cuisine
  • Modern art at the Guggenheim Museum
  • Spectacular scenery - rugged coastline and mountainous interior
  • Historic cities - with both a French and Spanish flavour

Home to the Basque people and their language, culture and traditions, Euskal Herria (the Basque name for their ancestral land) spans the area in the western Pyrenees on the Atlantic coast of Spain and over the border into France. Scenically varied but always spectacular, the wonderful mountain vistas, verdant forests and delightful coastal villages can be enjoyed whilst submerging yourself in a rich history and vibrant culture, unique to this region.

This tour takes in both the French and Spanish Basque regions, following the rugged Atlantic coastline from Bayonne and Saint-Jean-de-Luz over the border to San Sebastian, and inland to the elegant city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, exuberant Pamplona and the modern city of Bilbao, home of the futuristic Museo Guggenheim, which you will visit. Wherever you are, city or beach, green mountain slopes are always on the horizon, a constant reminder of the rugged, unspoilt charm of the region.

LUGGAGE TO YOUR HOTEL
Travel Editions recommends a luggage delivery service called thebaggageman, where your suitcase can be picked up from your home before departure and delivered straight to your hotel; therefore removing the worry about carrying your cases onto and off the trains. Please click here for more information and we have arranged a 10% discount exclusive to Travel Editions clients off the thebaggageman service. Tel: 01844 264890

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More Info

PASSPORTS
Valid passport required by all, except:
(a) EU nationals holding valid national identification cards;
(b) Holders of national identification cards issued to nationals of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland.

TRAIN
As with most trains, passengers are responsible for carrying baggage onto and off the train. Baggage can be stored on overhead shelves or at the entrance to the carriages. Trollies are available at St Pancras and Lille, but bags do need to be carried on to the platform.  Porters are sometimes but not always available at St Pancras. The Eurostar and French trains are very long (18 carriages in the case of Eurostar and nearly 400 metres long) so there can be quite lengthy walks from the station entrance to your seat. On all legs of the journey you have reserved seat and carriage numbers which are shown clearly on your ticket.

LUGGAGE TO YOUR HOTEL
Travel Editions recommends a luggage delivery service called thebaggageman, where your suitcase can be picked up from your home before departure and delivered straight to your hotel; therefore removing the worry about carrying your cases onto and off the trains. Please click here for more information and we have arranged a 10% discount exclusive to Travel Editions clients off the thebaggageman service. Tel: 01844 264890

HEALTH & INSURANCE – EHIC CARD
Please note that EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) only allows access to the same state-provided healthcare as a resident of the EU country they are temporarily visiting. It is NOT an alternative to travel insurance and will not provide the same level of cover as a travel insurance policy. The EHIC will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property. It is also important to note that each country’s healthcare system is slightly different, so the EHIC might not cover everything that would be generally free on the NHS. On the EHIC application website, there is a section called Access to Healthcare Abroad which clarifies all the conditions and inclusions. We strongly recommend that you take out an appropriate travel insurance policy when you travel abroad.

Places of Interest

San Sebastian
San Sebastian is a picturesque city with a beautiful setting, sitting on the calm La Concha bay and backed by low, rolling hills. Best known for its wonderful beaches, the town itself is packed with fascinating sights, particularly in the Parte Vieja (Old Quarter) where the cramped old streets remain lively throughout the day. The baroque 18th century Basilica de Santa-Maria and 16th-century gothic Iglesia de San Vincente are the main must-sees.

Biarritz, Bayonne and St Jean de Luz
The grand and chic Atlantic resort of Biarritz became a popular playground for the rich and famous in the 19th century with villas and hotels dating from that period including the magnificent Hotel du Palais, on of Europe's grandest hotels. Other sights include the Russian church, Art-deco Musee de la Mer and Chapelle Imperiale. Capital of France's Pays Basque, Bayonne is a small city whose charms are best seen with a pleasurable stroll through the narrow streets of the old town, which are lined with half-timbered houses and still surrounded by the original 17th century fortifications. Thanks to its natural harbour Saint Jean de Luz has a strong seafaring history. The wealth this created is well displayed in the magnificent Old Quarter, which houses a number of old, half-timbered mansions, including the turreted Maison Louis XIV, where King Louis himself stayed in the build up to his wedding in 1660. 

Pamplona, Valle del Bidasoa
Best known for the annual 'Running of the Bulls', Pamplona has many lovely sights to visit, which are all conveniently located in the Casco Antiguo. Explore the twisting lanes each leading to beautiful parks, churches and eventually, the huge citadel - a fascinating muddle of architecture from different eras - or find the Plaza del Castillo, sit in a cafe and watch the world go by. The gentle, green slopes of the Valle del Bidasoa are scattered with traditional farmhouses and hilltops crowned with woodland. It is these river valleys where the old Basque traditions are at their most pronounced, making for a wonderful area to explore.

Vitoria Gasteiz, Onati
A flourishing medieval wool and iron trade created the fascinating and elegant city of Vitoria Gasteiz, filling it with Renaissance palaces, beautiful churches and grey-gold stone mansions. The medieval core of the city is arranged over a small hill and is a wonderful place to wander and discover plazas, palacios and excellent Basque restaurants! The name Onati perfectly describes the setting of this lovely town, translating as 'place of many hills'. Onati has an abundance of fine medieval architecture, including the beautiful Ancient University buildings, as well as the Santuary of Arantzazu, just above the town.

Bilbao, the Costa Vasca
A modern and prosperous city, Bilbao sits in a narrow valley, the surrounding green mountains visible through the high rise buildings. The centre has plenty to entertain, with the Museo Guggenheim, a must for modern art lovers, and the attractive Casco Viejo has several major sights such as the gothic Cathedral de Santiago, the Teatro Arriaga and the Euskal Museao Bilbao. The Costa Vasca runs from San Sebastian to Bilbao, providing breath-taking views along the wild, rugged Atlantic coastline.  

Accommodation

Zarauz Hotel, Zarautz
The three-star Zarauz Hotel is a traditional hotel dating from 1945 housed in a character villa close to the seafront. Facilities at the hotel include restaurant, bar, lounge and comfortable bedrooms with private bath/shower, TV, telephone and hairdryer.

Zarauz Hotel Website

OUR VIEW ON THE HOTEL
An excellent addition to our portfolio, offering a very Spanish atmosphere and a good standard of service and comfort. Zarautz is a typical Basque resort with a small but pretty old quarter, the beachside promenade is about 400m from the hotel and is ideally located for the places visited on the tour.

Pre-tour accommodation is available at the Premier Inn, London Kings Cross St Pancras, about a 5 minutes walk from St Pancras International, at an approximate rate of £90 per room. Bookings can be made direct with the hotel on 0871 527 8672 or visit their website.

Destinations
  • Zarautz
  • Spain
  • Biarritz
  • The Pyrenees
  • Pamplona
  • Bilbao
  • Paris
  • Pyrenees
  • Europe
  • France
Tour Types
  • Seniors
  • Rail Tours
  • Mountains
  • 50 plus
Departure Points
  • St Pancras

For more information about the places of interest please click here or on the tab above

Day 1: Travel by Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris and onwards to Hendaye by TGV. On arrival, transfer by coach to Zarautz (approx. 40 mins) and Zarauz Hotel. Dinner at the hotel restaurant is included tonight.

Day 2:  Full day tour to San Sebastián. A picturesque resort city, San Sebastián sits on the calm La Concha bay backed by low, rolling hills. The city is best known for its beaches but it is so much more, with a lively, buzzing atmosphere that fills the streets all day and well into the night. The charming Parte Vieja (old town) nestles at the foot of the green Monte Urgull, whilst Centro, the shopping and commercial district has some lovely 19th century architecture.

Day 3:  Full day tour to Biarritz, Bayonne and Saint- Jean-de-Luz. Biarritz is a stylish coastal town, a playground of the French glitterati. Today the resort is a haven for surfers, its seafront lined with grand old buildings, including the gorgeous 1930s Casino Municipal. Being the capital of France’s Pays Basque, Bayonne has a palpable Basque flavour. This attractive small city is best explored with a stroll through the narrow streets of the old town where you’ll find half-timbered houses painted in traditional Basque colours. Visit the excellent Musée Basque to delve deeper into the culture. Saint-Jean-de-Luz, with its sheltered and sandy beaches and magnificent old town complete with half-timbered mansions, is one of the most popular and attractive resorts on France’s Atlantic coast.

Day 4: Full day to relax and explore Zarautz at your leisure. The coastal town of Zarautz is a popular seaside resort with a long swathe of sandy beach. A luxury resort in the late 19th and early 20th century, a number of lavish mansions sprung up along the seafront, which you’ll find as public buildings today. There are also a couple of museums to explore, the Photomuseum and the Art and History Museum of Zarautz.

Day 5: Full day tour to Pamplona and el Valle del Bidasoa. Best known for its legendary festival of Sanfermines, Pamplona is a wealthy and self-possessed city. Built as a fortress to protect routes into Spain from the Pyrenees before becoming the capital of the fiercely independent state of Navarra the compact Casco Antiguo (old town) is stuffed with quaint stone lanes leading to lovely churches and a magnificent citadel. El Valle del Bidasoa is a lovely lush area of fern, grass and woods scattered with traditional farmhouses.

Day 6: Full day tour to Vitoria-Gasteiz and Oñati. A flourishing medieval wool and iron trade created the elegant and undiscovered city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, filling it with Renaissance palaces, beautiful churches and grey-gold stone mansions. The medieval core of the city is arranged over a small hill and is a wonderful place to wander and discover plazas, palacios and excellent Basque restaurants. The name Oñati perfectly describes the setting of this lovely town, translating as ‘place of many hills’. Oñati has an abundance of fine medieval architecture, including the beautiful ancient university buildings.

Day 7: Full day tour to Bilbao. A modern and prosperous city, Bilbao nestles in a narrow valley, the surrounding mountain slopes peeking through the high rise buildings of the city centre. The arrival of the Museo Guggenheim (entrance included) in 1997 transformed the city into a tourist hotspot and although not as pretty as its near neighbours there is plenty to do here – the attractive Casco Viejo is a charming place to explore.

Day 8: Transfer back to Hendaye station to catch the return TGV to Paris. At Paris, board the return Eurostar service to St Pancras.

NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion. 

Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 49 passengers.

INCLUDED

  • Return Eurostar/TGV from St Pancras to Hendaye via Paris with coach transfer in Paris
  • Seven nights' accommodation on bed and breakfast basis at the three-star Zarauz Hotel, Zarautz, based on shared occupancy of a twin room
  • Dinner (set menu) at hotel on first evening with wine 
  • Return transfers from Hendaye to Zarautz and full coach touring programme as detailed in the itinerary conducted by a tour manager
  • Tour manager throughout

NOT INCLUDED

  • Single room supplement
  • Holiday insurance
  • Standard Premier/1st Class upgrade on Eurostar/TGV. On the Eurostar this constitutes upgraded seating and light meal with complimentary drink with upgraded seating only on the French railway leg
  • Meals other than those stated
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls
  • Porterage and gratuities

PLEASE NOTE: As with most trains, passengers are responsible for carrying baggage onto and off the train. Baggage can be stored on overhead shelves or at the entrance to the carriages. Trollies are available at St Pancras, but bags do need to be carried onto the platform.

Travel Editions recommends a luggage delivery service called thebaggageman, where your suitcase can be picked up from your home before departure and delivered straight to your hotel; therefore removing the worry about carrying your cases onto and off the trains. Please click here for more information and we have arranged a 10% discount exclusive to Travel Editions clients off the thebaggageman service. Tel: 01844 264890

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
01-Jun-2021 for 7 Nights Visit website
07-Sep-2021 for 7 Nights Visit website

Touring with Travel Editions

Offering a wide range of extended tours and cultural short breaks for the discerning traveller, Travel Editions was established in 1994 and is now one of the leading specialist independent escorted tour operators in the UK. The company started with the idea of creating itineraries that were not readily available on the high street, and the team still remains focused on offering escorted tours that appeal to travellers rather than tourists.

Over the years, Travel Editions has developed and diversified its range of escorted tours to include rail tours, air tours, history tours, Christmas tours and even specialist interest tours that have specific appeal for walkers, foodies, art lovers, music addicts and flower enthusiasts. From enjoying wonderful walks and tasty local cuisine in Crete to visiting the art nouveau buildings of Milan and exploring the architectural gems of the Netherlands, Travel Editions creates amazing tours to suit every budget and interest.

As rail transport is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel, the company has carefully developed nearly 30 exciting escorted rail tours that include trips to France, Spain, Brussels, Arnhem, Luxembourg and the Italian Riviera. Travel Editions believes that the journey becomes part of the holiday, and is why this specialist tour operator also offers a range of tours by air, such as Delphi and Mount Pelion in Greece, the beautiful Italian city of Florence, and Paphos, Nicosia and the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus. Whatever the escorted tour or the destination, Travel Editions provides holidays that are packed full of cultural and historic treasures, as well as plenty of free time to relax and soak up the local atmosphere and the regional food and wine.

One of the best things about Travel Editions is that the team can tailor-make all tours to your group’s budget and specification, be it shopping till you drop in New York or tasting the most delicious gastronomic delights of Sicily. Not only can the activities be tailored to meet your requirements but so can the travel options, hotel selection (three, four or five-star hotel) and the whole itinerary. Alternatively, you can simply pick one of the many carefully curated escorted tours listed on the Travel Editions website.

In almost all cases, daily excursions are included in the price of a trip, and all excursions are taken by private coach. The size of the group varies depending on the escorted tour, and Travel Editions limits some holidays to lower numbers to suit the nature of the specific holiday. Walking, culinary and special interest tours are limited to approximately 20-30 passengers, and the Europe by Rail and Europe by Air holidays are limited to a maximum of 35 passengers. Then there’s the UK British Heritage Tours with a maximum capacity of 49, however, some are much less than this. No matter which tours you choose, you will never feel as though you are in a big group.

Travel Editions is passionate about delivering a personal service every step of the way, and its team of experts will arrange your holiday with minimum fuss and maximum effort. Customer service and attention to detail are at the heart of everything they do, plus you will always be treated as an individual and get the benefit of affordable prices by travelling as a group. Another bonus is that Travel Editions is ABTA and ATOL protected, which means your money and your holiday will be protected from the moment you book.

In addition to offering extended tours and cultural short breaks, Travel Editions offers a large range of special events in the UK that bring the culture and history of the United Kingdom to life. These events can be found in the Art & History Abroad programme and include expert speakers, entertaining concerts and impressive dinners in historic locations.

 

 

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tour details

This tour is operated by Travel Editions

7 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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