tip-no-6 | © Bert Schwarz 2022

La Rhune


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The starting point of hiking to the mountain top in Ascain is undoubtedly the most popular. But there is also a more relaxed alternative. We'll take that one and ride up on the legendary little train. It is one of the rare rack railroads in France and dates back to 1924. The line connects the Col de Saint-Ignace with the summit and goes for a distance of 4 km with a difference in altitude of 736 meters.

Bahnhof, Bahntrasse, La Rhune, Col de Saint-Ignace | © Bert Schwarz 2023

La Rhune is 905m high and something like the local mountain, the symbol of the Basque Country. The rack railroad, Le train de la Rhune, leads to the summit. Inaugurated in 1924, it transports thousands of visitors every summer, including us this year (2023).

Mainly because of the parking situation, we take the first train early. We start at the Col de Saint-Ignace, near the village of Sare.

Berg, Wiese, Wald, Bahntrasse, La Rhune | © Bert Schwarz 2023

For those who prefer to walk the path of about 2½ hours, remember that the weather here can change quickly, after all it is a (small) mountain. The fog can come and go in a matter of minutes.

Berg, Wiese, Ponies, La Rhune | © Bert Schwarz 2023

From the open and beautifully restored old wagons we enjoy the typical green hills of the Pays Basque. We see Pottoks, semi-wild ponies that you should be careful with.

They look nice, are not shy and are used to people wandering by. But they are the bosses on the mountain and if something doesn't suit them, they kick. From a safe distance we enjoy the view, which is a foretaste of what awaits us at the summit.

Tal, Felder, Dorf, Wald | © Bert Schwarz 2023

There is plenty of room there for walking and picnicking - in the restaurants that are 'already' in Spain - or with the provisions you bring with you.

The panoramic view from the summit is exceptional: it extends to the hills of the Basque Piedmont dotted with colorful half-timbered houses, the peaks of the Pyrenees, the Basque coast and the bay of Saint-Jean-de-Luz with its long, bright beaches visible from afar.

Then it's time to take the train back and discover new vistas.