Nicola Forsyth describes this 6-night rail journey across the Basque to Bordeaux, combining self-guided walks, culture, pintxos and fine wine.
In a nutshell:
The perfect trip for foodies, this scenic rail journey takes in three of the world’s most gastronomic cities - Bordeaux, Bilbao and San Sebastián with a side serving of culture. There’s also self-guided walking tours to make the most of the exquisite landscapes and impressive architecture.
Price: £775 per person, including all train travel on the trip but not including train travel from the UK to/from France
What's included: 6 nights at three selected hotels (two 3-star hotels; one 4-star hotel); cultural information and self-guided city walking tours for all cities, including a ‘Pintxos trail’ in San Sebastián; rail travel Bilbao-San Sebastián-Bordeaux; 6 breakfasts.
Departures: April, May, June, July, August, September, October.
Nearest station to start of trip: Bayonne
Nearest station to end of trip: Bordeaux St Jean
How to travel by train to Bayonne: It's easy to travel from London to Bayonne by train. You have to change stations in Paris from Gare du Nord to Montparnasse, which can take about half an hour on the Paris metro (though we recommend you leave at least 50 minutes for the entire transfer - see our guide to How to transfer between train stations across Paris). For more details on the train journey from London to Bayonne, including some suggestions for where to stay near the train station in Paris if you want to break up the journey and spend more time in Paris, see our flight-free journey planner: Train from London to Bayonne.
Optional extra: Options to add extra nights and room upgrades. Consider adding an extra night in Bordeaux to visit nearby St Emilion and its world-class vineyards.
What's the trip like:
A tour for your tastebuds, start your trip in Bilbao visiting as many pintxos bars as you can stomach in between Highlights include the Guggenheim Museum, the River Nervión and Bilbao’s medieval Casco Viejo (‘Old Town’). Venture further out of the city and you’ll be rewarded - the suburb of Portugalete is a short train ride away, where you can visit the Puente Colgante – the world’s oldest transporter bridge and the former fishing village of Getxo. The town of Guernica, honoured by Picasso’s famous painting, can also be reached by train.
Next on the tasting tour is San Sebastián, a 2.5 hour train away where you will stay for two nights at the Hotel Niza. Boasting the most Michelin stars per capita, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating in this pretty coastal city. Give your palate the ultimate treat with a txikiteo (pintxo ‘crawl’).
If you can tear yourself away from the pintxos bars, spend Day 3 sightseeing. Highlights include: the San Telmo museum (closed Mondays), riding the city’s funicular to the top of Monte Igueldo for fabulous views or relax on one of the city’s three beaches. The most popular - Playa de la Concha - is a stone's throw from your hotel. On Day 4 you will take a 4 hour train to Bordeaux (with a change in Hendaye) for your final two nights in Quality Hotel Bordeaux Centre.
Your fifth and final day will be spent exploring the wine capital, appreciating its recent regeneration alongside its 18th-century mansions and boulevards. Follow the self-guided city trail, which includes stops at the Musée des Beaux-Arts - where you can marvel works by Van Dyck, Matisse and Rubens - the Place de la Bourse and Cité du Vin to swot up on your wine knowledge with a glass of the city’s finest.
How to enquire/book this holiday:
This holiday is provided by Inntravel, one of the founding tour operator members of Green Traveller. One of the great things about this holiday is its flexibility: you have a choice of start/end dates and you can add additional nights on to the itinerary. If you'd like to know more about this holiday, please see more details on the relevant page given below and if you'd like to book it, do contact them directly or complete their booking form and a member of their team will be in touch with you: