France's three Basque provinces are in the southwest corner of the country, near the Spanish border, and are steeped in folklore and ancient customs. Men can still be seen in the traditional costume of a beret and cummerbund, towns and villages all have concrete courts for the playing of the national ball-game, pelota, and bullfighting is a popular spectator sport.

Most visitors head for the Atlantic coast to the popular resort towns of Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz, or to explore the Basque capital, Bayonne. Hikers and nature lovers are drawn to the grand Pyrenees Mountains to fish for fat trout, wander the trails, dip in warm mineral pools, marvel at the glaciers or climb challenging peaks.

In the Bigorre region, close to Basque country, is the Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a peasant girl in the mid-19th century.

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