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The Basque Country, Pays Basque, Euskal Herria, is located in the western Pyrénées mountains, straddling the border between France and Spain, meeting at the Atlantic Coast’s Bay of Biscay. Emerald landscapes, distinctly rugged mountains, precipitous shorelines and the rich heritage of the Basque, Euskaldunak, kept this area uniquely singular. Proudly independent, the Basque people, who are neither Spanish nor French, have been living in this autonomous region since the earliest known modern man was discovered in France some 45,000 years ago. Discover some of the best of the Pays Basque… St Jean de Luz St. Jean de Luz is the most iconic fishing village in the Pays Basque. It has a working port where 10,000 tons of fish from over 100 varieties are caught each year, including tuna, sardine and anchovy. It was from this port that 15th century fishermen chased whales to the shores of Newfoundland. St. Jean de Luz has a lively old town center offering daily farmers’ markets, boutique shops selling Basque linens, berets and espadrilles, restaurants and cafés. Espelette Espelette is a small, colorful village nestled at the foot of the Mondarrain
mountain, renowned for its famous Espelette pepper, which arrived from Mexico by New World explorers during the 16th century. Since then this lightly spicy, red pepper has been rooted in the traditions of rural life. When autumn comes the facades of houses are adorned with strings of peppers. La Bastide Clairence La Bastide Clairence was founded by the King of Navarre in 1314 and settled by the Gascons. The village church is distinguished by a unique courtyard cemetery paved with tombstones. In the 17th century, Portuguese Jews fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition arrived in the village bringing with them the art of making chocolate. Bayonne Bayonne is situated at the confluence of the Nive and the Adour Rivers in the French Pays Basque. The historic district of Grand Bayonne is characterized by its narrow medieval streets, the Gothic Saint Marie cathedral and its 13th century cloister. The Petit Bayonne district is dedicated to the arts, crafts and traditions of the region with over 3,000 objects on view at the Musée Basque. Bayonne is considered France’s first capital of chocolate.
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