The Basque Country in southwest France (and northern Spain) is one of Europe’s most distinctive regions, with an interior of steep green hillsides and low whitewashed farmhouses. The coastline alternates between wave-sculpted cliffs, broad beaches, pretty fishing ports and stylish resort towns. The area first acquired upscale properties in the second half of the 19th century, starting at fashionable watering holes like Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Biarritz.
Today, the region is once again popular with prosperous Europeans, who appreciate its mix of scenic, cultural and gastronomic attractions. If Biarritz is the grande dame of the Côte Basque, a sister to Palm Beach, relaxed and preppy Saint-Jean-de-Luz has more in common with Chatham on Cape Cod. For a fascinating introduction to Basque history and traditions, pay a visit to the excellent Musée Basque in Bayonne.
June, September and October are the ideal times to visit, since the area is busiest during the summer and often rainy during winter and early spring.