As the most “Atlantic” of all of the southern towns, Dax is the perfect place from which explore end discover France’s second-largest départment!
When trying to find your way around don’t be surprised to find that Dax locals are very keen to help you: “Alors, de Dax étant, vous prenez cette direction” is the local expression for pointing lost tourist in the right direction!
A bull’s eye view!
Equipped with your walkman and town map, set off to discover the bullfighting traditions of the South West. This highly original audio guided visit narrated by the famous international rugby player Pierre Albaladejo and accompanied by bullfighting music takes you around some of the key sites of Dax’s bullfighting scene. For many other suggestions and ideas for visits, call in at the Dax Tourist Office!
All roads lead to Dax!
Dax is only 4 hours 15 mins from Paris via TGV Atlantique high-speed train service.
By car, access is easy via the A63 and A64 motorways.
The town is situated close to three airports:
- Biarritz-Parme (60km),
- Pau-Pyrénées (80km),
- Bordeaux-Mérignac (145 km).
All year round, the Dax reservation service can provide you with information and ideas for stays, and can also handle your accommodation reservations for you. A couple of minutes and a phone call is all it takes. What could be easier!
Dax! Behind this lively name which rolls off tongue like the clack of castanets, reminding tourists of Spain’s close proximity, you’ll find a town noted for its relaxing lifestyle!
Dax is ideally located between the huge pine forest of the Landes and the fine sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast, protected from the coastal winds and harsh winters.
The town enjoys generous levels of sunshine, contributing in no small measure to that legendary Gascon “joie de vivre” written on the faces of local people!
The mimosas fill the air with their fragrance from late January onwards, followed shortly after by the many plants and flower varieties in the town’s parks and gardens. Some 50 hectares of nature at its best can be discovered here, offering the ideal place to stroll, to lose yourself in your thoughts or to play a game of pétanque in the shade of foliage!
In summertime, the warm streets of Dax take on a mauve and rosy hue, with the colourful lagerstroemia (or “Lilac of the Indies”) and albizia, which have become the town’s floral trademark.
The Bois de Boulogne offers an attractive 6 km walk alongside the Adour, including an equestrian club, fitness trail, practise golf range and lake.
As an arboretum, conservatory and environmental discovery centre, the Sarrat Park is a calm and relaxing setting in which to discover nature, combining its French-style gardens and landscaped areas with majestic trees and rare plant varieties. Not forgetting the organic vegetables from the kitchen garden!
With its elegant facades, its art deco building and its picturesque streets, the town’s historical pedestrianised centre il perfect for strolling…and for shopping!
Water: a source of health and well being
Water, water everywhere!
Dax is an aquatic town in every sense of the word!
Its name, which comes from the Latin word “aquae” was transformed over time to Acqs, d’Acqs and then Dax. Built in the 19th century on the site of the former Roman baths, the famous Fontaine Chaude (hot water fountain) has become the key symbol of Dax as a resort, which proudly proclaims its status as France’s leading spa destination!
Well-known as a treatment for many afflictions, the waters of Dax can also be enjoyed for fun in the swimming pools and balneotherapy facilities…Do you prefer the bracing waters of the ocean? You’ll find them just 35 km away from Dax!
Discover different waters and other pleasures including the Adour and the surrounding lakes where the pikeperch, pike, perch and eels are sure to delight fishermen. Dax is a paradise when it comes to water.
Rheumatism and circulation
Dax is a spa town. All of the 15 spas are using a special mud called “Péloïde”, a natural product applied to the body, and also treat ments in hot water, coming from a natural source (62°).
The area around the Néhe (the ancient hot water spring) used to be the town’s butchers’ and tripe sellers’ district. Housewives back then would use the 64° water for cooking eggs and plucking poultry.
Unique of its kind, Dax’s thermal mud is made from silt from the Adour. It has given rise to a famous local therapy: phelotherapy.
The authentic flavours of the Landes
Nature’s best...whatever your taste
Dax is a culinary showcase for a diverse region well worth a visit for its delicious cuisine! Tourism and gastronomy go hand in hand here. The massive Landes forest makes this an ideal area for hunting game and gathering nature’s little delights, with woodpigeons, woodcocks and roe deer sharing the woodland with ceps, chanterelles and asperges des sables. Under the huge pine trees, free-range poultry is reared in total freedom.
Further to the south, in the fertile and undulating land of the Chalosse, Tursan end Armagnac areas, you’ll find elegant country houses and Romanesque churches, vine-planted hillsides and fields of corn, so vital for rearing ducks to make foie gras, but also for feeding the cattle producing the mouth-watering Chalosse beef.
Nothing goes to waste from a fatted duck. From the fillet of duck breast, aiguillettes, foie gras, gizzard and rillettes, through to the frame, you can roll up your sleeves and tuck in with your fingers!
History around every corner
Historical Dax and its art
Dax’s history can be discovered around every corner. Until the 19th century, the town was protected by impressive ramparts dating from the Roman period. It is still possible to admire some of the ruins in the Théodore Denis Park and in the Place de Salines. Those with a passion for Gallo-Roman history can discover the foundations of a temple dating from the second century AD situated in an archaeological crypt.
Another century and another style: some of the finest examples of art deco can be seen in Dax, including the cosy lounges of the Splendid Hôtel and the Atrium theatre, where the luxurious décor includes gold and silver coloured stucco features.
The Résidence des Thermes designed and created by the famous architect Jean Nouvel.
The Splendid Hôtel: this art deco masterpiece from the 1930’s and a showcase for the local hotel and spa sector of the day really lives up to its name! The architects André Granet and Roger Henri Expert created this sumptuous grand hotel. The latter also worked on the decor for the cruise liner “Normandy” and the Pleyel room in Paris.
A reminder of the town’s occupation by the English for three centuries, the coat of arms of Dax includes a tower representing the fortified town, the lion (a Royal symbol), and the undulating sea symbolizing the Adour and the river port.
The motto “Regia Semper” (Ever Royal) is that of a free town answerable only to the King.
Built in 1913 on the shaded banks of the Adour, the Dax bullring with its raw whiteness and Andalusian styling brings to mind the plazas de toros of southern Spain.
The excavations undertaken in 1982 under the town’s ancient market revealed an amazing collection of bronze statuettes including Mercury, the god of trade, and Aesculapius, the Roman god of medicine.
Bandas, tapas and corridas
The most important word in “South West” is “South” and Dax has never forgotten this! After all, how could it when the town is so close to the Basque country and to Spain.
In late July, Latin fever invades the town accompanied by the bullfighting music and Paso Doble of the Paso Passion festival.
You’ll need to warm up and get in shape for the main feature of Dax’s annual event calendar: the Feria held in August! This includes six days and nights of fun and excitement during which some 600,000 “festayres” of all ages mingle in the streets, in addition to enthusiasts from all over the country.
Just after the Feria, the month of September sees Dax getting into the “salsa swing” with its Toros y Salsa festival, which welcomes some of the great names in Cuban music.
The white costume and red scarf are the traditional uniform of the Dax “festayre”. This is a long established local ritual which puts all festival-goers on the same footing, regardless of their age, physical condition or convictions. The Feria has only one religion: that of sharing.
At Dax’s superb bullring, the Toreros’ Chapel offers a place for prayer and reflection where the matadors ask the Virgin, “Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza”, for protection before the bullfight.
Don’t let anyone tell you that Landes bullfighting is nothing but folklore. The Gascons take great pride in defending this traditional sport! And a sport it is... the aim being to sidestep attacks from furious wild bulls or to perform spectacular leaps over the animal.
The people of Dax are very competitive and when they play they play to win! The town’s rugby club has long been something of a talent school for the French national squad. Local supporters cheer on their heroes whether these are rugby or pelota players, who can be found all year round at the Jaï Alaï, at the stadium’s pelota court or at the Trinquet des Charmilles, for bitterly disputed pelota games.
Other venues also offer no shortage of fun and thrills. Visit Dax’s horse racing track and casino for their excitement end adrenaline, or the Silver Coast’s various greens for some excellent golf with a marvellous sea view.
In June, the fun moves on stage with the arrival of the comedy festival and its street entertainment, and takes on a musical note in July thanks to the classical concerts held as part of the abbeys Festival.
The mild climate of the Landes makes it possible to play golf whatever the time of year. Nestling between the forest and the ocean, the region’s golf courses offer highly original green layouts, blending perfectly into the area’s sandy and undulating natural environment. Discover a truly unique atmosphere.