If you could only visit one village in the interior of the French Basque Country, it would have to be Espelette. Its picture-perfect streets are lined with traditional Basque houses.
Espelette village is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees south-east of Biarritz below Mondarrain mountain. The village is within the Basque province of Labourd and is famous for its chili peppers and has an ‘appellation controlée’ vouching authenticity.
After the harvest the houses are strung with strings of the ‘piments’ to dry. Most of the houses are in Traditional Basque style, with white houses and red or occasionally green shutters. These villages in the Basque region are unique in France.
The origins of the Espelette Pepper date back to 1650 when a Basque sailor that had been traveling with Christopher Columbus brought some chili peppers to the Basque Country. These peppers were first used medicinally and then later for conserving meat and ham.
With time, they have become a cornerstone in Basque cuisine. The ‘Espelette Pepper,’ is also grown in 10 villages of the region, among them Ainhoa and Espelette. The European Union has granted a protected designation to the Espelette region which means only peppers from this particular area can have the name Piment d ’Espelette.
At one end of the main street the 16th century castle is now the village town hall and Tourist Office and holds exhibitions including:
• an exhibition related to chili peppers
• another dedicated to Agnes Sauret, who lived in Espelette and was the first lady to win the ‘Most beautiful woman in France’ award (around 1920),
• another for Armand David, an intrepid explorer from Espelette who travelled the world in the first half of the 19th century.
The village itself is the main attraction to visitors. Be sure to visit the Church of Saint-Etienne. The church has a typical Basque church interior with three levels of wooden galleries going round the walls and a decorative 18th century altarpiece. The style of church interiors in the region is unique.
Shops, boutiques and artisans in Espelette offer souvenirs and home-made chocolates (chili flavor). Other villages nearby that have similar Basque architecture are Sare and Ainhoa which are both listed among the most beautiful villages in France.
The countryside is perfect for exploring, walking or cycling – or taking the small train that climbs the La Rhune Mountain offering magnificent panoramic views of the countryside, coast, and ocean. Whilst in the region you might be lucky enough to come across the semi-wild horses called ‘pottok’.
• Bus/Coach picks you up and drops you off in Biarritz.
• Biarritz to Loyola travel time approx 1h00.
• Tour guide joins your bus-coach in Biarritze.
• Free-time in Espelette and villages, before you return to Biarritz.
• Hear the history of events that have shaped the history of Espelette.
• Visit Espelette village. St Etienne Church, the Chocolaterie, Piment Exhibition
• Get tips on the best things to see and do in Espelette during your stay.
• Enjoy some of the best views of Espelette and surrounding countryside.
Espelette is famous for its chili peppers. After the harvest the houses are strung with strings of ‘piments’ to dry. Most of the houses are in Traditional Basque style. These villages in the Basque region are unique in France. The Church of Saint-Etienne has a typical Basque church interior with three levels of wooden galleries going round the walls and a very decorative 18th century altarpiece. A 16th century castle is now the village Town Hall and tourist office and exhibitions center.
• Transport from Biarritz to Espelette and return Espelette to Biarritz
• Guided walking tour of Espelette and its history
• Hotel pick-up/drop-off in Biarritz
• The services of a professional guide
What’s Not Included?
• Food and drinks
• Tips (optional)
• All other extras
• Every day (excluding exceptional dates)
• Duration: All day en route and in Espelette
• Departure point: Biarritz
• Language: tour commentated in the English language
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