Saint Jean de Luz, the French basque town

Down this alley its my favorite town, less well known than the more famous Biarritz for example ,but I like Saint Jean de Luz better, more cozy, friendlier, quaint ,nice beach, and full of history too. Let me tell you a bit about this town.

It was try to bring back into the kingdom of France since Charlemagne days; after he attacked Pamplona in Navarra, they reposted with an ambush at Roncevalles or Roncevaux in french, they were known first as the Vascons established in present day Navarra, and were set back from the 6C north of the pyrennées,now the area of Gascogne.  they started with a dynasty as the kings of Pamplona until Sancho VI takes the title of king of Navarra from 1178AD It has FRench connection because SAncho VII died without heirs, and the kingdom passes to his nephew Count Thibaud de Champagne. After many wars the peace is achieved in the region by the edit of Union in 1620 signed by king Louis XIII when the kings of France become automatically kings of Navarra as well with the confirmation of the treaty of the Pyrenées in 1659 due to the union of king Louix XIV and Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain. The frontiers and the repartition has remained intact to our days.

The basque language is unique and rare, it is part of the finno ourgriennes language of Europe (Finland,Estonia, and Hungary) the only non indo european languages in the old continent, and habit to name it the oldest languages in the continent. They are many hypothesis as to the origin of the language too many to include on this presentation,needless to say nothing is sure of its origins. In France the integration into the national spheres is much more subtle and peaceful.

The city of Saint Jean de Luz, is best known for the treaty of the Pyrenées of 1659. A political marriage of king Louis XIV with the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain, the king arrives in town the 8 may 1660 and the 9 june joint the Infanta at her house the maison Lohobiague, where a defile takes places led by Cardinal Mazarin of France.  The service is done by bishop Olce of Bayonne for a duration of 3 hours. The door by which the couple leaves was sealed forever.

you get here from Paris by the A10 then switch to the local D810 (old N10 road) ,before reaching the autoroute A63 ,you exit sortie 3 or 2. Viamicheline can help you trace your route as best possible, http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/ , we took it by car and park in Blvd Victor Hugo city center . The train from Paris is at the  gare de Saint-Jean-de-Luz-Ciboure at Place Verdun,on the line from Bordeaux -Irun at the limits of the towns,it has direct connection from Paris Montparnasse station,  the webpage for schedules,etc is here .http://www.ter-sncf.com/Regions/aquitaine/Fr/Default.aspx. The town can be seen on foot, however in summer when we went there is a free bus service  Itzulia around city center, which is fun to take with kids, the webpage for info in French is here http://www.itzulia.com/

Some of the best sights or at least my favorites here are the port/harbor area with colorful boats of fisherman and a beautiful view ahead of the Pyrenées mountains. Around the port area you will see the Maison de l’Infanta or Maison Haraneder (where Maria Teresa stayed) with beautiful paintings of the school of Fontainebleau. The Maison Louis XIV or maison Lohobiague (where the king stayed) is of old basque design typical mariner deco, from the second floor beautiful views of the Pyrenées too. The church St Jean Baptiste, richly decorated inside if outside is a bit dull,  this is where the marriage took place!  Of course, in summer the best attraction could be the beach at Grand Plage in city center right walking from it! ideal for families as it is protected by dikes so no big waves! Due to this environment the city is pushing for its Thalasso spa service which I am told are pretty good but never try it. And, for typical Basque tradition see the Ecomusée de la Tradition Basque, RN10 road see jean viter webpage for info in English, http://www.jean-vier.com/ecomusee.aspx

There are nice close towns to see like Ciboure with is church of ST Vincent 16C, and the native house of Maurice Ravel ,composer of famous Bolero No27,  Chateau d’Urtubie built with ok of king Edward III of England in 1341AD. The corniche or cliff hanging road before reaching the port of Saint Jean de Luz at Socoa is marvelous if by car visit ,built by king Henri IV and renovated by Vauban.

For shopping in Saint Jean de Luz, you have the Les Halles located at Blvd Victor Hugo (right off the underground parking I use) you will have all the local products all year and every morning! Around the Halles ,every tuesday and friday morning you have an outdoor marché as well as saturday mornings in july and august  with plenty of produce veggies, fruits, meats of local producers, especially the cheese of brebis basque especialty ! On the halles you have plenty to see as far as shopping and restos in its neighborhood with good map here just hit entrée  ,http://www.halles-saintjeandeluz.com/ . For arts, tablecloths, statues of basque manufacture see Galerie Catherine Frederic here  http://www.galerie-catherinefredericportal.com/ . The famous basque espadrilles or sandals typical of the area,go to Nicole Paries at 52 rue Gambetta,webpage http://www.espadrille-paries.com/ . For chocolates and basques sweets dont forget to go to Paries, 9 Rue Gambetta, webpage http://www.paries.fr/ , and the famous macarons of Maison Adams, we load up on these when in town, lOl! around place Louis XIV, our favorite people watching terraces in town, the webpage for it is at http://www.macarons-adam.com/

We do lots of travel by car to the city, many times stopping by here, and the one time we stayed longer we use the Hotel de la Plage in summer time, great views convenient to all, and great friendly service ,right at Grand Plage, the webpage is here http://www.hoteldelaplage.com/

As far as eating, we do a lot of tapas standing Spanish style or basque as you wish.  It is the traditional way and less expensive too as you do not take a table. However for sitting around place Louis XIV there is Bar La Baleine, for snacks and ice creams is great with kids like me. by the Halles area standing is best with ciders and tapas(try the Chipirons, little calamars or pulps)  is Bodega Chez Kako,18 rue Harispe, place des halles. For seafood at its best try the La Txalupa, place des Corsaires, terrace on the place Louis XIV that goes to port area.Brasserie/Café Le Suisse, place Louis XIV, great friendly service, the kids favorite, lots of goodies ncluding ice cream lol! they made the waiter work for the tips::) but he was very good indeed.

The tourist office for the city is at http://www.saint-jean-de-luz.com/

and the regional tourist office is at http://www.tourisme64.com/index.php

Hope you enjoy the trip, Cheers

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