Medieval pilgrims travelling from France to Santiago de Compostela joined the GR65 route at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to travel south across the Pyrenees, via an old Roman road, to the Spanish monastery of Roncevaux in Navarra.
The hike covers 27km and can be walked in 7 hours following the yellow trail marks for the Chemin de St-Jacques and newer red and white signs. The little village of Honto makes a welcome place to stop for a meal or overnight stay.
The GR10 long distance hiking trail (866km in total) links the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean through the Pyrenean Mountains travelling roughly parallel to the Spanish border.
The way is marked with red and white signs and the route can be found in guide books of the French Hiking Federation and on regional maps. However, routes around towns and villages are liable to change so be sure to travel with up-to-date literature.
Unlike the higher GR11 route which often crosses the border, the GR10 does not include actual mountain top climbing, although there is plenty of ascending and descending. The section from Bidarray along the ridges of Crete d’Iparla to St Etienne-de-Baigorry is a 7 hour walk, famous for its views and the chance to see vultures at close range. Dress sensibly and do check for settled weather conditions as the terrain can be dangerous in storms or fog.
The conical 900m ‘mountain’ of La Rhune, spanning the Franco-Spanish border on the western edge of the Pyrenees, is a famous landmark of the Basque coast. Perhaps because of its unusual shape, it was held sacred in Basque mythology and is covered with ancient stone circles and dolmens.
The summit is a popular destination for walkers whilst many more visitors enjoy taking the little cog-wheel train up from Ascain. The train, built in 1924, runs every day from mid March to mid November, beginning at 9am - depending on the weather. The 35 minute journey is worth it for the fantastic, uninterrupted views along the French and Spanish coasts and across the Pyrenees from the summit observatory.
White water rafting is popular on the Gave d’Oleron. Visit the watersports centre at A Boste in Saveterre-de-Bearn, to enjoy this extreme sport with the security of professionals. There is also a white water rafting centre at Laas.