Ten kilometres from Saint Jean de Luz, this authentic rack railway train, the “little tourist train de la Rhune”, dating back to 1924, takes you up 905 metres to the magical summit of the Basque Country which dominates the French/Spanish border and Pyrenees mountain range. The line is open from February to mid-November, welcoming 350,000 visitors every year with its four trains.
A memorable trip to a mythical location
It’s up and away for a 30 minute climb at a speed of 9 kilometres per hour, in the heart of untamed nature. If the landscape is extraordinary, then so too is the mode of transport. The wooden carriages have been completely restored by local craftsmen.
On the practical side, there are car parks close to the departure station, and visitor facilities are undergoing improvements.
Before setting out on this journey to the heights, don’t forget to take a tour of Sare, the village where the railway starts. Admire the white houses with red timber frames, of which the oldest date from the 16th Century.
Go to the top!
Once your feet touch the ground, there are many activities available for a full day’s enjoyment. Many hiking routes start from the top. The most famous of these is the Sentier de la Rhune, which takes you to the station at Le Col de Saint Ignace (this is a difficult route, requiring two hours to descend or three hours to climb). There you will discover flora and fauna full of surprises ; pottoks, semi-feral ponies native to the region and a totally exotic species of flora ; the drosera, otherwise known as ‘sundew’, a small carnivorous plant which grows on the peat bog of the Plateau des Trois Fontaines. And finally, why not enjoy a meal in one of the three ‘ventas’, traditional inns peculiar to the region.