Deep pyrénées at Saint Jean Pied-de-Port

We continue our journey South and we enter the domain of the basques as well as their reputed excellent cuisine. As much as driven this is a new area for me. I usually driven by pass this mountaineous area to go by Oloron Sainte Marie or go further into Saint Jean de Luz/Bayonne/Biarritz areas.  We took the plunge into Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port again in the Pyrénées Atlantiques dept 64. We drove from Pau and took the most scenic route ,meaning mountains !!

We set out on the N134 direction Oloron Sainte Marie, and here took the road D919 direction Aramits (yes please the famous member of the 3 muskeeteers is from here ,the film Aramis personage real name  Henri d’Aramitz) so I can say been to see Richelieu, D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos ,and now Aramis. My motto all for one and one for all !! Here we took the road D918 directon Tardets, and then we hit the mountains on the D26 to reach Larrau and then Iraty and its col de Bergagi!!!1327 meters high through the clouds wow!!! on third gear on the D19 now, then again thru huge mountains we hit the road D18 direction Saint-Jean-le-Vieux (here they had a fairs all goodies from the region and it was packed traffic directed to connect with the road D933 that took us in to Saint Jean Pied de Port at last!!! Great ride !!!

We got in thru the citadel ramparts of the old castle of citadelle de Mendiguren that you can meandered through. tourist office is http://www.saintjeanpieddeport-paysbasque-tourisme.com/  and in English at the town site here, http://www.st-jean-pied-de-port.fr/mpi2/en/8/29/58/presentation-du-patrimoine-de-la-ville/presentation

You need to see the Church of the Assomption de la Vierge (that locals still insist is the old name that counts such as Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont) . The various gates or portes surrounding the old town along rue de la Citadelle such as Porte St Jacques, Notre Dame, Navarre, Spanish , and France.  This street is full of shops and restos very quaint and picturesques. The Bishop’s prison or Maison prison des évêques is nice small museum .

The most impressive for us however, was the food, we are very gourmand and wine lovers so we had our lunch with local products at a butcher, traiteur shop, this is the real thing forget the restaurants. We had our Bayonne ham, Roncal brebis(ewe) (goat) cheese, basque sangria with piment espelettes,and delicious cherry and apple gateau basque or basque cakes  at Charcuterie Basquaise Maison Gastellou on 9 rue d’Espagne. Go for it. We took it and ate at the parc with an overview of the city by Place Floquet. We then came back to buy more to take home ::) http://www.charcuterie-basquaise.com/page/nos-boutiques

We went for the basque macarons at the La Fabrique de Macarons on rue de la Citadelle, yummy for desserts. here they had almonds, chocolate, lemon, noix de coco, almonds with piment d’espelette, flavors that we clean the house. http://www.lafabriquedemacarons.fr/

At the La Caves aux Fromages we clean up on brebis(ewe)  cheeses in different shapes and textures from Ossau-Iraty region simply awesome we eat them at home like bread lol!!! They are at the place des remparts back on the left of the covered market, this is what you would get there the real thing, http://www.fromage-brebis.com/fr/ , and this is from the tourist office http://www.saintjeanpieddeport-paysbasque-tourisme.com/fr/producteurs-degustation/la-cave-aux-fromages-cooperative-laitiere-du-pays-basque#.U_xkK8IcTmI

And to end it all, we stop by the store of Etienne Brana, one of the original irouléguy wine and do not forget the apéritf wine Txapa ::) The the tourist office is here on them http://www.saintjeanpieddeport-paysbasque-tourisme.com/fr/producteurs-degustation/sarl-etienne-brana#.U_xkzsIcTmI  ,and the page for them, which you can also tour their winery, we decided to go for the wine at the store instead on rue de l’église.  http://www.brana.fr/PBSCCatalog.asp?CatID=1399191

Now we were all set to go back on a full day swinging since early hours, we decided to take it easy and go thru more flat terrain now; so we head out of the D933 road direction St Jean le Vieux. Then took the D918 direction Mauléon-Licharre, where there was a nice Church of Saint John the Baptist and a Castle of Andurain.  Continue on fast empty departémental roads we took the D2 direction Navarrenx (which had already visited) , took the D947 direction Orthez and then the rocade road D817 to Pau. And rest !!! but ready for more . Enjoy the photos and Cheers.

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