Visit Ainhoa (Aquitaine, France)
Ainhoa is a village in the Labourd province and deep in the Basque country close to the Spanish border in south-west France and 20 kilometres south-east of Saint Jean de Luz. The village is classified among the 'most beautiful villages of France'.
Ainhoa was an important stop on the pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostella, where many of the routes from France converged. The original village was destroyed by the Spanish in 1629 and the village you now see was built in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Ainhoa Tourist Information and places to visit
Ainhoa, like Sare and many other villages in the area, is a lovely Basque village with a great deal of charm and houses that are very good examples of the local architecture, with the half-timbered wood often painted in deep red and green colours. The village itself is little more than a main street and a large church, but very pleasant to explore.
Perhaps the most curious feature of Ainhoa is that the buildings on one side of the street appear to be more decorative, and have more balconies, than those on the other side of the street. In fact this is because local tradition is to build houses with their backs to the sea, for protection against the wind and rain. So on one side of Ainhoa main street you are seeing the backs of the houses. Personally I found the slightly more austere 'house backs' as attractive as the more decorative fronts.
The overhanging rooves that protect the half-timbered houses are another characteristic of the architecture of the region.
Also interesting to visit, Ainhoa church originally dates from the 13th century with substantial later modifications (17th century) including the belltower. Inside the church features the 'two rows of balconies' commonly found in Basque churches and an ornate altarpiece, while the adjacent cemetery contains some interesting early gravestones.
Of course, being a Basque village, Ainhoa also has a 'fronton' wall where old and young play Pelota, the local sport.
The village also contains a couple of expensive 'art' shops (we found the village to be expensive, for things like postcards, even compared with nearby Sare) and cafes.
Ainhoa is a common starting point for several walks in the low mountains of the region, and also very popular with cyclists. When you visit Ainhoa you will be aware that part of the lovely setting is created by the Rhune mountain that stands above the village. You can ascend the Rhune mountain on a small train through very scenic countryside.
Note: in recent years the name Ainhoa has also gained popularity in France as a girl's first name.
Photos of Ainhoa
Click any picture to start the gallery
Tourist classifications for Ainhoa
Ainhoa is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Ainhoa, Espelette, Bayonne, Pyrenees-Atlantiques, Aquitaine, 64250 || GPS: latitude 43.306, longitude -1.498
Map of Ainhoa & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Ainhoa, France
- Sare - most beautiful village (7km)
- Jardins de la villa Arnaga - remarkable garden (10km)
- Anglet - ville fleurie 4* (19km)
- Bayonne cathédrale St Marie (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (21km)
- Bayonne - secteur sauvegarde (21km)
- Vallée des Aldudes - site of natural beauty (23km)
- La Bastide-Clairence - most beautiful village (24km)
- Porte St Jacques - St Jean Pied-de-Port (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (27km)
- Marais d'Orx - site of natural beauty (34km)
- Sorde l'Abbaye - abbaye St Jean (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (44km)
The French version of this page is at Ainhoa (Francais)