Settle in and explore the cultural traditions of sophisticated resorts and art havens as well as gem-like villages dotting the Bay of Biscay and nestled amid the Pyrenees.

Starting at: $4,290 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The Bayonne Cathedral  San Sebastian beach  The Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art, Bilbao  The city of Bilbao, with the Guggenheim Museum, set amid the Basque countryside  The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela  City View of the gorgeous Biarritz  Monument to the running of the bulls in Pamplona  San Sebastian ocean side view   The Pyrenees Mountains  San Sebastian  Bilbao City, Spain

France and Spain’s Basque Region

A One-Week Stay at the Parador de Hondarribia

9 days from $4,290

Settle in and explore the cultural traditions of sophisticated resorts and art havens as well as gem-like villages dotting the Bay of Biscay and nestled amid the Pyrenees.

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250*per person when you book by June 14, 2019!

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

Delve into the wide-ranging soul of the Basque region in both France and Spain. Settle in and explore the cultural traditions of sophisticated resorts and art havens as well as gem-like villages dotting the Bay of Biscay and nestled amid the Pyrenees. Your one-week stay at the Parador de Hondarribia, a historic upscale Spanish property overlooking the bay near the French border, only adds to the otherworldly spirit of this cultural program.

Highlights Include

  • France: Learn about the heritage of Bayonne, capital of the French Basque region and designated a “Town of Art and History.” Spend time in fashionable Biarritz, and explore smaller gems in the shadow of the Pyrenees, such as Espelette, with its traditional Basque homes; St. Jean Pied de Port, a crossroad for pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela; and Maison Ortillopitz, where residents discuss Basque history and culture.
  • Spain: Venture to Bilbao to visit the renowned Guggenheim Museum, designed by architect Frank Gehry. In 16th-century Pamplona, learn about the annual Running of the Bulls. Reside in the seaside village of Hondarribia, with its charming fortified old town known as a Basque mecca for foodies, and be fully immersed in quintessential Spanish Basque culture.
  • Culture and Cuisine: Join Spanish residents for conversation and dinner in San Sebastian. Visit a wine cellar to hear about and taste French vintages of the mountainous terroir. Learn about Spanish bullfighting and the civil war from a local speaker.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart the U.S. for Bilbao, Spain

Depart the U.S. for Bilbao, Spain via transatlantic flights.

Day 2 – Hondarribia

Upon arrival at Bilboa International Airport, transfer to Hondarribia, Spain, and the Parador de Hondarribia. Upon arrival, you will receive a welcome package of information about the area including maps and general information. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available this afternoon and throughout the program for suggestions regarding independent activities.

This evening, gather for a welcome reception and introductory talk by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by dinner at the Parador. (R,D)

Day 3 – San Sebastian

A full American-style buffet breakfast will be served each morning. Take a guided walking tour of the Old Town of Hondarribia. See the Plaza de Armas and stroll through the charming streets and picturesque corners steeped in the town’s rich heritage. Then take a short motor coach ride to the Santuario de Guadalupe, a beautiful chapel providing views of the Bidasoa Estuary and Txingudi Bay. A stop will be made for lunch at a restaurant outside of Hondarribia.

Continue on to nearby San Sebastian, the world-famous resort on the Bay of Biscay. Join an expert local guide for a walking tour of this popular resort town. Marvel at the stunning views along the boardwalk above La Concha Bay, see the Old Historic Quarter, and the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. Afterward, spend time exploring on your own before returning to the Parador later in the day. (B,L)

Day 4 – Bayonne and Biarritz

Cross the border by motor coach and continue on to Bayonne the capital of the French Basque region. Take a short walking tour of the town with a local guide, visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Bayonne and its cloister then enjoy a luncheon featuring local specialties.

Afterward, depart for Biarritz, the most fashionable seaside resort situated on the Bay of Biscay. The town owes much of its charm to the garden-promenades that run above the three superb sand beaches. Stroll along the waterfront from the Casino Barriere to Rocher de la Vierge offering panoramic views along the Basque coast. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Bilbao

Today we’ll visit Bilbao and the iconic Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum designed by American architect, Frank Gehry. An expert local guide will take you on a fascinating tour of the museum highlighting several important works of modern art.

Afterward, enjoy a brief panoramic tour of Bilbao before a stop is made for lunch. Back at the hotel join fellow travelers for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. This evening step out for dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Espelette and St-Jean-de-Luz

Enjoy a scenic drive from Hondarribia to Maison Ortillopitz, a restored private residence in the rustic French Basque country-side. Tour the house with the owner before continuing on to the town of Espelette. See the ubiquitous Piment d’Espelette (Pepper of Espelette) the town’s most important export. These drying red peppers are attached to the facades of buildings creating a worldwide recognition for the entire village. Enjoy a walking tour of the town and then enjoy a luncheon of Basque specialties.

Continue on to Saint-Jean-de-Luz a beautiful town that reveals a wealth of Basque history and culture. King Louis XIV of France married the King of Spain’s daughter, Maria Theresa, in St Jean de Luz in 1660. See the Church of St. Jean the Baptist on your walk through the area. In the early evening, gather back at the hotel for a discussion with a local expert on The Romance of Hemingway and Spain. (B,L)

Day 7 – Pamplona

Drive south through the Spanish countryside to the famed town of Pamplona. Along the way, stop at Mirador de Azpirotz, a perfect spot providing incredible views of the surrounding landscape. In Pamplona, stroll through the 16th-century streets. See Castle Square and the Gothic Santa Maria Cathedral. Enjoy time at leisure and lunch independently in one of the local cafés.

Afterward, return to Hondarribia and the Parador. In the early evening join fellow participants for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. (B)

Day 8 – St Jean Pied de Port

Today we’ll explore St Jean Pied de Port, located in the Basse Navarre province of the French Basque Country. The town is positioned at the foot of a mountain pass and situated at a crossroads of pilgrimage routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. Visit a wine cellar in the Irouleguy area where you’ll learn about the wine-making process. Sample a selection of local cheeses along with some of the full-bodied red and white wines. Tonight, join fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers for a festive farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant. (B,R,D)

Day 9 – Departure for the U.S.

This morning transfer to Bilbao International Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)