Pyrenees High Route 1 - Hendaye

This is stage one of the Pyrenees High Route starting at Hendaye seafront. Navigation is quite easy as the trail follows the signposted GR10 from Hendaye as far as the Col d'Ibardin. Highlights on this section are the beautiful Hendaye architecture, the bay of Chingoudi, which is a seabird sanctuary, the views over the Basque coastline and the lush green hills around Bidassoa and of-course, the unique and delicious Basque cuisine.


Hendaye is a border town separated from Spain by the River Bidasoa. Families enjoy the town's long sandy beach and the Atlantic waves attract keen surfers. Hendaye is also known for its beautiful Basque style houses and its impressive castle, the Chateau Abbadia.

Hendaye's proximity to Spain has been both a blessing and a curse. It an important point for commerce between the two countries. However the town has been involved in every conflict between the two countries, most notably perhaps when in 1793 Hendaye was attacked by Spanish troops who completely destroyed the whole town.

On 22 October 1863, the railway arrived in Hendaye, as the track on the Spanish side also approached the Bidassoa borderline. On 15 August 1864, the first Madrid-Paris train arrived in Hendaye marking the town as an international transport hub and holiday resort for the rich and famous.

In 1873, with the aim of avoiding any further incidents between fishermen from the two banks of the River Bidasoa, a naval base was built in Hendaye. Up until 1936 both people and goods moving across the border bridge which separated Hendaye from Irun in Spain had to pay a toll. With the passing of time the rivalry between the two countries gradually disappeared, particularly during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Hendaye provided refuge to the elderly and children from Irun who were fleeing the conflict. At that time the border crossing was closed and it did not open again until 1948, when the Paris-Irun railway connection was re-established.

During the middle of the 19th century Hendaye town council realised the potential of Hendaye as a holiday destination. The first bathing cabins were built near the dunes in 1865. For the next twenty years, up until 1885, successive local councils built, among other things, bathing facilities, a tramline, a casino with a cafeteria-restaurant and the Continental Hotel. Tourism became the fashion.

Although tourist activity in general has developed greatly over the course of the last hundred years, the villas and other buildings constructed in the town at the beginning of the 20th century continue to be the showcase of Hendaye's seaside promenade.

The architect Edmond Durandeau is known for his original and modern constructions. He planned to turn Hendaye into one of the foremost seaside towns on the Atlantic coast. He designed the Maison Rouge (built in 1911) among other buildings.

The Abbadia Castle, built between 1860 and 1870, looks out over the ocean. This neo-gothic building is inspired by Medieval castle models. The inside of the building contains an old astronomical observatory and a chapel in which Antoine d'Abbadie is buried.

French Basque Country

The Basque Country is made up of seven provinces, three of which are in the south west of France. The Spanish part is an autonomous region with a Basque government, while the French part answers to the central government in Paris. The Spanish side has had a strong independence movement. In France, they are also proud of being Basques but very few think they should become a country independent from France.



Elevation of Trail

Guidebook & Map

Pyrenean Haute Route

Tom Joosten's guide to the classic high-level trek, if there is only one guidebook you buy for the Pyrennes High Route then this should be the one

Pays Basque West Rando Editions 1

The western most section of the French Pyrenees between the Atlantic coast and St-Jean-Pied-de-Port