Straddling both France and Spain, this region has long been synonymous with glamorous beaches, great food and hard-to-pronounce wines. In recent years, the area has also become known for its waves; both Mundaka and Biarritz are now destinations on the world surf circuit.

By Food & Wine
Updated March 31, 2015

Restaurants | Wineries | Hotels | Best Beaches

Travel Tip

  • When to Visit: Summer is the time for sunbathing, but the world’s best surfers congregate in the fall (see Mundaka).


El Callejón, France

Star chef Alain Ducasse is a fan of this café, which serves Basque lamb and more than 30 Spanish wines.

El Rompeolas, Spain

This is one of winemaker Telmo Rodriguez’s favorite post-surf lunch spots. He orders local spider crab and fried anglerfish called pixín.

French Classics

Spanish Recipes


Domaine Abotia, France

This small winery makes an Irouléguy (pronounced ear-RULE-eh-ree), a rare blend of Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu.

Marqués de Riscal, Spain

Its winery in the Frank Gehry–designed wine-tourism center produces an excellent Rioja Riserva. Francis Paniego, Rioja’s great chef, has a restaurant on-site.

Remelluri, Spain

This winery is owned by the family of the prolific Basque winemaker Telmo Rodriguez. It is believed to be the highest-elevation vineyard in Rioja and is known for its Remelluri Blanco, a complex blend of seven white grapes.

Txomin Etxaniz, Spain

This small winery is a top Basque producer of Txakoli, the region’s dry, slightly sparkling white wine, which is made from the native grapes Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza.

Plus: Spanish Food and Wine: A Crash Course


Hôtel Arraya, France

This hotel in the village of Sare is 10 miles from the sea. Its restaurant serves regional dishes and a small shop sells Basque cakes, wines and linens.

Atalaya Hotel, Spain

It has 13 rooms and a top location near Mundaka’s surf and Urdaibai nature reserve.

Best Beaches

Côtes des Basques, France

Napoleon III and his wife, Eugenie, were among the first big-name vacationers at this popular beach in France’s glitzy seaside resort town, Biarritz.

Mundaka, Spain

Less than two hours from Rioja, it has the longest left-breaking wave in Europe. “This is the Montrachet of surf: powerful, elegant, fine, consistent,” says winemaker Telmo Rodriguez. The world’s best surfers compete here October 5–17 in the Billabong Pro (

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