Day 1

Bienvenue à Bayonne, France!

Jordaniel overlooking the Nive River in Bayonnee

Our journey kicked off with the enchanting town of Bayonne, nestled in the heart of France. The morning of day 1 of our Rick Steves Basque Country tour, we started in Toulouse, France. This was our first time in France and we were already hooked. We travelled to Bayonne by train and on arrival, greeted with its undeniable small-town charm. We walked from the station to our hotel enchanted by the weaving tapestry of old-world allure and modern delights.

Hotel des Basses Pyrenees.

We checked into the Hotel Les Basses Pyrenees and our 3rd floor hotel room was spectacular! If the rest of the accommodations were going to be this lovely, we were in luck! The hotel was part of the pre-historic city walls and still has a tower as part of the structure. From our lofty perch, the courtyard below beckoned, a tranquil oasis just off the restaurant. The hotel front is framed by the tower’s majestic silhouette.

First walk about

The timeline for day one was an evening meet and greet with our guide and traveling partners. We had time to walk around Bayonne and get to the know the city before the meeting. Bayonne consists of a labyrinth of cobbled streets cradled between the Adour River and the Nive River. Along their banks, riverside restaurants cast their reflections upon the shimmering waters, inviting us to linger and savor the moment.

In the heart of Grand Bayonne and Petit Bayonne, we wove through narrow passageways wondering if each person we passed may end up being part of our tour group. We meandered through Grand Bayonne and the Petit Bayonne. With each block, Bayonne revealed its secrets, a mosaic of history and tradition painted against the canvas of time.

Tour meet and greet

By evening, it was finally time to meet the rest of the tour group that we would be spending the next 8 days with. We were nervous because they could actually make or break the tour. Knowing this was a Rick Steves tour and that he attracts people who tend to be like minded in travel escapades eased our worry slightly. It was like having first day jitters! Luckily, our tour guide, Todd Hudnall had plenty of delicious wine to help break the ice. With glasses raised and laughter in the air, we toasted to new beginnings and shared hopes, bridging the divide between strangers and friends.

After some, ok lots, of wine (Todd later mentioned our group consumed the most day one wines) we took a short walking tour of the town. Todd walked us through Grand Bayonne, tracing the contours of its storied landmarks—the solemn spires of the Cathedral, the hallowed halls of the Tall Hall Theatre, and the bustling vitality of the market square. He pointed out some of his favorite places to eat such as Patxamama, La Table, and Maison Martin. We finished the tour with group dinner at Le Chistera where we continued to get to know each other as well as the Basque Country cuisine.

Google Map created by Todd Hudnall of Bayonne France
Google Map created by Todd Hudnall

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