Discovering the ventas of the Basque Country
Every summer, there’s a rush for ventas in the Basque Country. Direction Irún, Dancharia and the Ibardin pass, on the French-Spanish border. You don’t come here for the view, but to fill the trunk and tank of your car.
Scattered along the French-Spanish border, the “ventas” are small traditional shops, some of which have become large shopping areas with supermarkets, typical shops and traditional restaurants. The perfect place for shopping, souvenirs and Basque and Spanish specialties.
What can you find in the ventas of the Basque Country?
Located on the Spanish border, the supermarkets of Spain’s “ventas” are veritable Ali Baba’s caves, where you can stroll around as if in a museum. You’ll find everything here. Here you can buy traditional Basque and Spanish products such as Serrano ham, Pata Negra and other Iberian charcuterie. Regulars and tourists alike stock up on fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, wine and olive oil from local producers.
There’s also an impressive selection of top-of-the-range spirits (3 and 5-liter bottles of Ricard, whisky, vodka, gin, rum, etc.), to be consumed in moderation of course. Perfume, beauty, fashion and jewelry stores are particularly popular with shopping aficionados.
Many cross-border commuters also come here to do a little shopping, stock up on groceries or fill up on petrol. Because what attracts so many people to the ventas are the low prices.
Why shop at the Spanish border? Bargains are here!
In addition to the variety and quality of the products, ventas’ trump card is obviously the price. Taxes in Spain are very different from those in France.
With tens of thousands of items, Dantxarinea is known for all kinds of ventas and bargain prices. A liter of whisky (or gin, vodka, liqueur…) costs 50% less than in France. Brand-name perfumes cost up to 25% less. For cigarettes, cartons are sold at half price. There are also bargains to be had on extra-virgin olive oil and Iberian ham (3 times cheaper than at home).
Here you can eat and drink in the atmosphere of a Spanish inn.
Those who choose to spend a day or half-day here can also eat on site. Many ventas are also traditional restaurants and tapas bars, where travelers can take a break and sample traditional Basque dishes such as veal axoa withEspelette pepper, duck breast, coustous of confit pork, suckling lamb and more. These establishments are renowned for their quality cuisine, friendly atmosphere and prices that are just as attractive as the products on offer in the stores.
The best ventas in the Spanish Basque Country
- Dancharia (Ainhoa): 800 meters from the border crossing, Dancharia has 4 “Ventas Peio” (supermarket, fashion, restaurant, perfumery), open 7/7 from 9am to 7.30pm. 15 minutes from Espelette, follow signs for Ainhoa, then Dancharia.
- Col d’Ibardin (Urrugne): at 317 m altitude, magnificent views and good bargains too. More than twenty shops and restaurants are open year-round. 15 minutes from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, follow signs for Urrugne on the RN10, then Col d’Ibardin.
- Behobia (Hendaye): in Irún, in the border zone of Behobia, you’ll find 5 Venta Peio centers, open 363 days a year. 10 minutes from Hendaye over the Bidassoa bridge.