Basque in Biarritz, Anglet and Bayonne
The Basque trio of Biarritz, Anglet and Bayonne (all less than three miles apart) in south-west France (Pyrenees-Atlantiques) can be visited via flights from Manchester and are not overly expensive.
Sun seekers (with temperatures scaling 38 degrees in September) culture vultures and surfing enthusiasts alike can all carve themselves out a 4 day summer break that just about has it all. Yes, the south of France can be expensive but like my mum used to say: "you cut your garment according to your cloth."
If one is going to cry oneself to sleep after pretending to be loaded (thus paying £8 for a diet coke in a flashy bar instead of shopping at the supermarkets for fresh fruit and salads) then perhaps one should stick to the Costas. Besides, the patisseries (bakeries) offer a mean floury/sugary snack at a reasonable price.
Remember over 90% of the inhabitants in the south of France are on similar budgets as us (well maybe thats a little exaggerated) so just be yourself if you want to blend in and go unnoticed. Talking of which, a polite 'bonjour' when using French services should suffice, for most that can speak English, will do so to seize the opportunity to practice. Sprinkle in a little French of you own intermittently if you can, to let them know we are not completely 'language dumb' in old Blighty. Eventually, and after a couple of days, you may even be mistakenly assumed to be a French citizen yourself.
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That does not mean you have to guzzle their coffee of course. The best advice is take a little travel kettle and your preferred choice of tea or coffee. Cafes in the area will charge nearly £3 for half a cup of lukewarm 'American' coffee or their own little pot of 'black ink'.
If you want to get about in the region the bus service Chronoplus can shuttle you between Biarritz, Anglet, Bayonne and the airport for a single euro fare.
The main beach area in Biarritz perches astride the vast Atlantic Ocean on the Spanish border and is a lively holiday destination attracting a mix of ages (mainly French). Apparently the height and velocity of the waves make it an ideal surfing area (see image 1. Right click for more images).
In contrast, the beaches in Anglet are little more reserved than your Biarritz counterpart. This does not detract however from the natural beauty in abundance.
The main attraction in the old streets of Bayonne (see image 2) is the Basque Museum where artefacts of the Basque culture are well set out in this modern airy building. The entrance fee is six euro and the exhibits (including the brilliant Fandango portrait) are not explained in English so you have to practice your French and work the significance out yourself.
Now that's an education.