Get everyone together for a holiday table tennis competition. Who will be the champion?
A short drive will bring you to Amou, a charming and verdant town where mornings can be easily whiled away wandering along the river, or sampling the local cafés.
Once the capital of the Béarn, this lovely medieval town spans both sides of the river with a striking towered bridge linking the two halves. It is a short stroll from the bridge to the tourist office, which is housed in an impressive building, the Maison de Jeanne d'Albret, a restored Bearnaise Pigeonnier and courtyard. Orthez holds a bustling local market every Tuesday: a must-visit for those wishing to taste the array of fresh local delicacies.
For those in need of a little pampering...
why not head to the spa towns of Salies-de-Béarn or Dax, where a day trip could combine a visit to the spa with exploration of the Roman ruins, before rounding off your evening with a delicious meal in one of the many esteemed restaurants.
you can visit the thermal baths which are open to the public. A lovely way to relax, especially while the golfers are taking their exercise on the local course. The Station Thermale offers spa facilities,a gym and beauty salon, and the water, rich in minerals and several times saltier than the sea, is used to treat various ailments.
Laás has an 18th century castle set in a gorgeous park running down to the banks of the Gave de Pau, and any children in your party will enjoy the maize labyrinth.
Spend a day in Biarritz
Go first to the lighthouse for a panoramic view of the Bay and the Casino, and then take Le Petit Train from the Virgin's Rock for an easy tour of the town. There are various places to park, all well signposted. Biarritz has an Aquarium, the Chocolate Museum and also a museum of Oriental Art. And for the shoppers, there are some tempting designer shops on the road near the Casino.
The Atlantic coast around Biarritz is hugely popular with surfers, with the waters often used for surfing festivals or competitions. Watch them tackle the waves from the comfort of one of the long sandy beaches, or have a go yourself! There are plenty of companies offering equipment hire or lessons for any age & experience.
Visit St Jean de Luz
This pretty seaside town has a wide expanse of beach, and attractive little shops, galleries and restaurants. Since St Jean has a fishing port as well as a marina, this is the place to eat fresh fish and 'fruits de mer' (seafood). On Sundays, local bands sometimes play at lunchtime in the bandstand in the square beyond the marina. This is one of the towns the French themselves love to visit, so get there early to park. Follow the scenic road along the coast and down to Hendaye, for another large and beautiful beach, popular with surfers.
is an ancient game from the Aquitaine region, a type of bullfighting in which they use Landaise cows BUT they do not harm the animals. The aim of the game is to jump over the charging cows, and the human participants have to be very skillful and acrobatic! Worth going to see - events take place throughout the year in towns across the Landes region, with Orthez or Dax being closest to the house.
Spend a lazy day around the pool,
reading the novels you have been meaning to read for months! Pop those sunglasses on and get those pages turning. Or if you feel up to a little exercise, take a refreshing dip in the pool.
The historic city of Pau
...is only a 50 minute drive away (or you could take the train from Orthez). The city has been described as a trip to a "huge castle" (with shops) and is easy to discover on foot. Visitors can discover nine centuries of French history, and the Boulevard des Pyrénées gives wonderful views of the snow-topped peaks just to the south. The castle itself, birthplace of Henri IV, now houses one of the biggest and most beautiful collections of tapestries outside Paris.
Watch a game of Pelote
The French Basque towns are famous for the game of 'pelote', a court sport played against a wall with a ball, and a basket racket - imagine squash with a basket on your hand and a ball that travels the speed of Michael Schumacher! You can catch matches in towns such as Biarritz, Anglet, Dax, Bayonne, St Jean de Luz, Capbreton, Hossegor and Bidart.
For a mountaintop view of the beautiful Basque region,
follow signs from St Jean de Luz for 'Le Petit Train de La Rhun'. This funicular railway takes you up the side of a mountain, affording fantastic views. A fun trip for all ages, but very popular so plan to get there early in the day or later in the afternoon.
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