Basque Country MapFrom James Martin,
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Travel the Best of the Basque Country
Basque Country takes in part of southwestern France and a larger part of Northern Spain, as you can see from the map below.
Basque Country - Map
Map of Basque Country ©Mountain High Maps®, modified by James Martin
Basque Country In General
Basque Country is a region devided between two states, France and Spain, consisting of 20,664 square kilometres at the western end of the Pyrenees on the Bay of Biscay. It consists of seven traditional provinces Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, Araba and Nafarroa in Spain (País Vasco) and Lapurdi, Nafarroa Beherea and Zuberoa in France (Pays Basque).
Euskadi, the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. consists of the three northern provinces of Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, and Araba found in Spain. Euskadi consists of over 2 million people, or a little over 5% of the Spanish population. In 2002, this 5 percent of population produced 6.38% of the Spanish GDP. [source Euskadi]
Basques on the Spain side have a relatively high degree of Autonomy, while those on the French side do not. A statute of autonomy allows Basques in Spain operate their own parliament, their own taxation system, police force, university and media.
For a good discussion of the History and Geography of Basque Country, see Katherine Schulz Richard's Basque Country - A Geographic and Anthropologic Enigma.
Bilbao, Spain - Spend three days here, one of them visiting the Guggenheim.
San Sebastian Spain, a major Basque town, along with Bilbao. Otherwise the tourist might be better off spending your time visiting the beautiful Basque countryside, according to Damian Corrigan in his Basque Country Travel Guide.
St-Jean-de-Luz, France, called "a jewel in the Basque Country by Kelby Car, who writes, "This pretty small beach city is just dripping with charm, from its port lined with colorful boats to its boutique shops selling surfing gear and lessons year-round. Find out more about the French Basque Country.
Vitoria - the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of Basque Country on the Spain side.
Eat and Drink
Wines of the Basque Country - Four Denominaciones de Origen wines are represented in the Spainish Basque Country, some of them from the famous Rioja region.
Basque Country Tapas: Pintxos, Pinchos, and more Pintxos - The best way to discover the fantastic cuisine here is found in the finger foods. Here's how to play the Pintxos game.
You'll find Piperade all over the French Basque area. The spicy tomatoe-pepper sauce is used in so many recipes you might want to try the recipe at home to see what you're getting into: Basque Piperade Recipe.
Foodies might want to take a gastronomic tour of the place to eat in Basque Country, San Sebastian. The San Sebastian Food gastronomy tour company will take care of you.
Where to Stay
User-rated hotels from Venere (book direct)
Since a big draw in Basque country is the countryside itself, one might be inclined to rent a country house or villa in the territory. HomeAway lists over 100 vacation rentals in Spanish Basque Country (book direct) but over 1400 in Cote Basque - Bairritz.
Spain Maps and Resources
Basque Country: Language
The Basque word for the language is Euskara. It is a very ancient non-indo-European language. Euskara currently has eight dialects identified. Basque is written using the Latin Alphabet. Some important Basque words are found here.
Getting to Basque Country by Train
It's best to explore the Basque countryside by car, but the cities and highlights can be visited by train, expecially for those only interested in going to the Guggenheim. If you don't have a Spain Rail Pass, you can find out the prices of point-to-point tickets on Rail Europe.
A very good Basque FAQ, especially useful for language questions, is FAQs About Basque and the Basques.