The beginning of the 20th century was a time when passionate self-indulgence and a taste for elegance in all things combined to create an era which history has dubbed the Belle Epoque. Few cities embody the essence of this glorious time as successfully as Biarritz (3 nights) and San Sebastian (3 nights).
On this tour, we explore the two cities that represent the essence of the High Life at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries. We shall stay in hotels in fine early 20th-century buildings and experience the high-class culinary pleasures of two centres of Haute Cuisine. Both Biarritz and San Sebastian have medieval origins and both have attractive Old Quarters with churches and museums. But it was the patronage of royalty and aristocracy that gave the cities the impetus to become two of the most exclusive watering-holes in Europe from the mid-19th century onwards. We shall savour something of this ethos when we take lunch in the legendary Hotel du Palais in Biarritz and tea in the Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastián. In addition, we shall dine in one of the Michelin-starred restaurants that have given modern San Sebastian its fame.
Of course, both Biarritz and San Sebastian are Basque cities and we shall also explore that fascinating aspect of their personality. Now that ETA has renounced the armed struggle and apologized for its violent past‚ the Basque Country is embarking upon a period of renewal. Whilst in France we shall travel into the hinterland and the glorious scenery and picturesque villages of the Basque Pyrenees‚ whilst in Spain, we travel to Bilbao to visit the building that represents more than any other the re-birth of the Basque Country in the modern world – the incomparable Guggenheim Museum.
This tour offers a unique opportunity of getting to know a remarkable corner of Europe‚ of fine cities‚ fabulous landscapes (coastal and mountainous) where an ancient culture co-exists with a dynamic modern ethos. Few places offer so much.
Hotel Regina in Biarritz (3 nights)‚ a magnificent luxury hotel in a Belle Epoque palace – in San Sebastian‚ the Hotel Niza‚ perfectly located on the La Concha beach.