In order to visit the French Basque region, we based ourselves at a campsite just outside St Jean de Luz, a few miles from the Spanish border.
This beautiful seaside town has narrow streets, a lively harbour and large horseshoe-shaped bay with golden sand. The town grew up as a fishing port initially with large catches of sardine, anchovies and whales, but when well-to-do French, English and Spanish tourists started arriving in the late 19th century, it became a fashionable resort and tourism took over.
We watched some local fishing boats netting large amounts of sea-grass, just off the beach. When the haul was landed, we asked them what they were going to do with it. It turns out that it was all off to Spain to be refined and used in many ways including in the production of cosmetics - not exactly what I had in mind for Crème de la Mer!
The town's main claim to fame is that it is here that Louis XIV spent his final days of bachelorhood before marrying Maria Theresa. In addition, the composer Maurice Ravel was born in pretty Cibourne, just 2.5km west of the town. It is here too that the prominent fort was built in 1627 and later improved by Vauban before he then went off to assist Napoleon in his many battles.
It proved to be a great base for exploring the area and one that we look forward to visiting again.
Camping Itsas Mendi. 15 euros per night with ASCI card + 7=6 inc water, services, wifi. Set on hillside with large terraced pitches. On-site site shop with fresh bread and pastries. Great outdoor pool with water slide and indoor heated pool. Only downside was not enough hot water in the showers.Read more