The three Basque provinces – Labourd (Lapurdi), Basse Navarre (Behe Nafarroa) and Soule (Zuberoa) – share with their Spanish neighbours a common language – Euskera – and a strong sense of identity. The language is widely spoken, and Basques refer to their country as Euskal-herri (or, across the border in Spain, Euskadi). You’ll see bilingual French/Euskera toponym signage and posters throughout the region (sometimes only in Euskera), so in this section we have given the Euskera for all locations in brackets after the French.

Apart from the language and the traditional broad beret, the most obvious manifestations of Basque national identity are the ubiquitous trinquets (enclosed) or frontons (open) concrete courts in which the national game of pelota is played. Pairs of players wallop a hard leather-covered ball, either with their bare hands or a long basket-work extension of the hand called a chistera (in the variation known as cesta punta), against a high wall blocking one end of the court. It’s extraordinarily dangerous – the ball travels at speeds of up to 200kph – and knockouts or worse are not uncommon.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Why you should go back to Paris in 2017

Why you should go back to Paris in 2017

There’s nowhere else quite like Paris. No other city can match the allure of its rooftop vistas, café-lined boulevards and striking monuments. Paris’s abil…

11 May 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 1 minute guide to France

Video: a 1 minute guide to France

There's little wonder that the land of châteaux, Champagne and croissants regularly tops lists of the world's most visited countries. France beguiles travell…

28 Apr 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month