From San Sebastian you must visit the coastal towns of Biarritz, St. Jean de Luz, and Bayonne. These can be easily visited on a day trip to French Basque country, returning to San Sebastian for the night.
Biarritz is the French answer to San Sebastian; it is a luxurious seaside town just 20 minutes from the border. Biarritz is known for its surfing, and for the Barrière and Bellevue Casinos on the waterfront near the Grande Plage. But if you are already visiting San Sebastian you could skip or spend less time in Biarritz.
The seaside resort of Biarritz became famous when Empress Eugénie built a summer villa in 1885. Since then, Biarritz has played host to bevy of royalty and celebrities. It is not just glamour, Biarritz is considered as the surfing capital of Europe.
Bayonne hosts a major Basque festival every July called the Fêtes de Bayonne. Bullfights and bull runs take place from July to September, during the Fêtes de Bayonne. The festival manages to attract more than one million visitors making it the largest festival in all of France.
Bayonne has a great museum of Basque history.
Saint Jean de Luz
Saint Jean de Luz is known for its soft natural light that bathes the town. It is a fishing port and a resort famous for its cuisine. The sea in the Saint Jean de Luz area is also a calm place for bathing thanks to its dykes that keep out the stormy Atlantic waves.
The French Basque area is also known for cycling routes and golf courses.
All 3 French Basque towns are within an easy day trip away from Bilbao or San Sebastian. Bayonne is the farthest, still only an hour away from San Sebastian.
French Basque by bus
Take the public bus from Bilbao or San Sebastian, to Hendaye, on the Spain-France border. From Hendaye take the train to travel into French Basque country. The border at Hendaye is far closer from San Sebastian (15 minutes) than from Bilbao (75 minutes).
If you are driving from Bilbao to French Basque region
Take the motorway towards San Sebastian. Once you pass San Sebastian go to the border. Pass the border and continue on the motorway until you reach San Juan de Luz, then Biarritz and Bayonne. The car journey is very picturesque.