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Pays Basque

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When we mention the Pays Basque in the South West site, we are infact referring to the three French Basque provinces (Soule, Basse-Navarre and Labourde) of the Basque Country or Euskal-herri that includes these three "French" provinces plus four Spanish ones.

The origins of the Basque people pre-date the Indo-European settlements of Europe. The Basque language, spoken by 20% of the current population, is very different from Gaellic and European languages spoken in the rest of the world today. The Basques also have a very distinct and lively culture, sports such as Pelote and their own cuisine.

Basse-Navarre was previously the north of the Kingdom of Navarre, capital Pamplona (now in Spain), that was conquered by the Spanish Kings in 16th Century and seperated into two provinces, Basse (Low) to the North and Haute (High) to the South. Pamplona remained capital of the Haute-Navarre, while Saint-Palais became capital of the Basse-Navarre, under the control of the Bourbons. The borders of Navarre had changed over time and various attempts had been made to unify all the Basque people under the throne of Navarre. However the division of the Kingdom into two provinces eventually led to the division of Navarre between France and Spain that exists today.

Geographically, inland Pays Basque is very similar to Béarn, with foothills, valleys and mountains. The Pays Basque, however is particularly famous for the Basque Coast (Côte Basque) with the popular costal resorts of Biarritz and Saint Jean-de-Luz being the most popular holiday destinations.


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Bidart
Herrere

Towns - Pays Basque

Bayonne
Large city and port on the mouth of the Adour
Biarritz
Major tourist centre on the Basque coast with English connections
Hendaye
Border town on the Basque coast
Saint Jean-de-Luz
Most important Basque fishing port

Towns and Villages in Pays Basque

Ainhoa
A fine example of a typical Basque village
Bidache
Small village with spectacular ruins
Bidarray
Basque village on fishing river
Bidart
Basque coastal resort
Cambo-les-Bains
Important spa town
Col d'Ibardine
Shopping centre on the Spanish frontier
Espelette
Basque town renowned for its peppers
Hasparren
Busy indutrial town in the Pays Basque
Iholdy
La Bastide-Clairence
Old bastide village built by the Gascognes in the Pays Basque
Larrau
Village high up in the mountains in the Pays Basque
Mauléon
Old capital of the Soule
Saint Engrâce
A scattering of settlements high in the Pyrénées
Saint Etienne-de-Baïgorry
Pretty village high up in the Aldudes valley in the Basque country
Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port
Important and picturesque town near the Spanish border
Saint Palais
Important agricultural town in the Pays Basque
Sare
St Pée-sur-Nivelle
Tardets-Sorholus
Commercial town close to Pyrénéen valley
Ustaritz

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