France is no stranger to unique overnight accommodations (just consider the wine barrel hotel in Saint-Émilion). But L’Arbre aux Oiseaux (“the Tree of Birds”) in Cambo-les-Bains is a world a part. Instead of a chambre d’hôte (the classic French bed & breakfast), think nids d’hôtes® (nid means “nest”).
Situated in the Basque country just 20 kilometres from Biarritz and the Atlantic coast, L’Arbre aux Oiseaux was the brainchild of Christophe Marga, a talented artist known for his wrought-iron work, and his wife Isabelle. Marga sculpted a giant, 12-metre oak tree out of steel, and nestled small, traditional Basque-style houses in its branches. There are three “nests”, each equipped with a round bed and decorated with the artist’s lovely ironwork. Perched at the summit (9 metres above ground), the pigeonnier is an ideal spot for observing nature from porthole windows.
High up in the tree, you can sip flutes of Champagne while taking in views over the river and the glorious mountains of the Basque country. It’s also possible to order tasting plates with renowned local products like charcuterie, sheep’s milk cheese served with black cherry jam, and gâteau basque. Breakfast is worth waking up for- a bountiful spread of pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, cheeses and meats (9 euros).
Did we mention the Jacuzzi at the foot of the tree?
Les Nids d’hôtes, Avenue du Professeur Grancher, 64250 Cambo Les Bains. Tél: +33 (0)5 59 93 67 20. Email: [email protected] From 172 euros/night. Open all year (the nests are heated). The Margas also operate a lovely bed and breakfast called Maison d’hôtes Rosa Enia, priced at 100 euros for the first night, and 85 euros for the second.