Who knew the Basque country was home to the third largest festival in the world (behind Rio Carnival & the Pamplona Festival)? In the south west of France, the town of Bayonne attracts over a million visitors to the event. Les Fêtes de Bayonne has been dubbed France’s wildest party.
It’s a celebration all things Basque. It runs at the end of July for 5 days (Wed-Sun). It’s a sea of red and white as everyone dresses in the traditional Basque colors throughout the festival. People are selling scarves and belts everywhere for a couple euros so it’s very easy to get into the cultural spirit.
If you’re staying in the neighboring town of Biarritz, you can hop on a 20min bus for 1euro. Talk about efficient transportation. This takes you straight to the gates where you can purchase a 5day wristband for 8euros. If you’re looking for EDM music, you’ll have to turn around and hop on the next train up to Paris. Les Fêtes de Bayonne isn’t a rave or crazy music festival, it’s a huge celebration of the Basque culture. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a raging party and everybody is getting obliterated! But it’s also fun for the family too.
There are many things to do and see: You have the Pelota games (national sport), there’s a huge picnic on Children’s Day, and even their own – much less insane – version of Pamplona’s running with the bulls. Every bar and restaurant is serving food and drinks outside. You can even take your glass to any neighboring bar and get a refill.
Make sure your stamina is in tip top form as you’ll never find yourself with a break. There is no down time during the five glorious days of French frivolity. There is live music, dancing, flash mobs, floats and everything and anything you fancy. Groups of marching bands would roam the city playing through alleys and stopping in front of random bars getting everyone to join in song and dance. At nights, festival goers are known to dance, spin, and often stumble from peñas to peñas (neighborhood clubs) in a sea of sound and movement that lasts until the early hours of the morning. To the very last minute, the Fêtes de Bayonne gives its all. There’s an elaborate fireworks show on the last night that everyone gathers to view.
As the Thirsty Swagman wrote – “It’s as if Alice in Wonderland fell down the French provincial rabbit hole and found masses of croissant/wine/omelette loving, bull fighting, cow chasing, red and white wearing, singing dancing and parading party animals.”
This color scheme has us thinking about a new design at Baja Llama HQ. Until then, it’s time for you to grab your white outfit and red scarf because it’s only a couple months away – S’amuser!
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