Hendaye, Pyrenees-Atlantiques: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Hendaye (Aquitaine region)

Visit Hendaye (Aquitaine, France)

Hendaye is the last town that you come to before reaching Spain when travelling along the coast of south-west France, known as the Cote d'Argent. The town stands on the right bank of the Bidassoa river that marks the frontier with Spain.

The small island in the river, the Ile des Faisans, was an important border location for several centuries, culminating in the Treaty of the Pyrenees being signed on the island in 1659. The Treaty finally brought to an end the centuries of conflict between France and Spain in the border regions. One curious result - the island itself (which is uninhabited) alternates every six months between being French territory and Spanish territory.

Exploring Hendaye

Hendaye has been a historically important frontier town for many centuries and is more of a year-round town than many along the coast.

Moorish casino in HendayeThe resort part of Hendaye has a long sandy beach that is popular with sunbathers and windsurfers alike. At the northern end of the beach there is a rocky promontory providing some shelter for the beach and an attractive backdrop.

There are perhaps rather more high-rise apartments behind parts of the beach in Hendaye than in some of the more recently developed resorts further north up the coast, but there are also a good number of belle-epoque villas to be seen.

The more developed part of Hendaye seafront is to the east, while the traditional villas are mostly further west along the Boulevard de la Mer. A pedestrian promenade follows most of the length of the beach.

There are also some features of historical interest in Hendaye such as the Great Cross of Hendaye in the main square. The church of Saint-Vincent, built in the 16th century, is the centre of the town. The unusual moorish style of the building that was originally Hendaye Casino is also interesting.

The pleasure and fishing port is also a pleasant place to explore: it is behind the town and beach in a small area in the large bay formed by the river estuary: just keep following the Boulevard de la Mer westwards and you will find it!

The most interesting part of the town itself is on the hill behind the seafront, with views across the sea and also to the Pyrenees that start just inland.

Attractions nearby

To the north, the road along the coast towards Collioure is very scenic. To the south, the easy access to Spain and the chances for cheap shopping and cheaper petrol are another attraction of the border region.

Natural Park and Chateau d'Abbadia

If you follow the headland north of the town centre you enter an area designated as the Abbadia Natural Park where there are some attractive cliffs and a small beach in a cove.

Also in this part of Hendaye is the Chateau d'Abbadia. The castle was constructed in the 19th century by renowned architect Viollet-le-Duc in a 'neo-gothic' style to look medieval, and furnished throughout in an oriental style. The castle also incorporates a large observatory, that can still be seen and used, and astronomy related tours and events are often available.

See more of the popular resorts and beaches in Aquitaine

You can find more local travel ideas in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques guide and the Aquitaine guide.

See also:

Map of Hendaye and places nearby

Visit near Hendaye with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Pyrenees-Atlantiques

Address: Hendaye, Bayonne, Aquitaine, 64700, France || GPS: latitude 43.3594, longitude -1.77333

Plan your visit to Hendaye, Pyrenees-Atlantiques

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

Market days in Hendaye, France

Regular market(s) are held in Hendaye each Wednesday & Thursday & Sunday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Hendaye (Francais)