Deep Pyrénées at Saint Palais!

Again bringing back memorable trips from my vault ,and what a ride it has been!!! Love it!!! This one is going down deep in the Pyrénées mountain before them you see the small town of Saint Palais. Hope you enjoy it as I do.

On a hot week with temps up to 28C or about 82F and very bright sunny day, let me tell you again about my wanderings road warrior travels of the deep south of France. There is a south and there is a deep south, this one is inner France amongst mountains, in the again deep south, get it!  I will talk about Saint Palais a small town for the essence of travel by car.  

Saint-Palais or Donapaleu in Basque is a town in the département 64 of  Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.  The town is at the heart of the old kingdom of Navarra of which it was the capital since 1521!  It is bordered by the Bidouze and Joyeuse rivers. Saint Palais is about 60 km from Bayonne, 85 km from Pau ,and 40 km from Spain.  It is on the via Podiensis of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (St James); the first town to cross Navarra and many times considered as the beginning of the Camino Navarro, or even the Camino Francés.

The automobile is king here coming on the autoroute A64 exit or sortie 4 ; and connecting to the roads  D8, D11, D302, D511 D933 , and D2933.  The closest airports are the Biarritz-Parme  and Pau-Uzein . From Pamplona or Navarra Spain by the peak or col de Roncevaux  at about 108 km.  For info, as of course,never taken it ,the bus line 809 from Orthez/Salies-de-Béarn/Sauveterre-de-Béarn/St Palais reaches here. webpage:

A bit of history I like:

In 1521 after the defeat against the Spanish in the battle of Noain, king Henri II made it the capital of Navarra.  He created the Estates General of Navarra in 1523 here, as well as the chancellery and the prime ministers that later king Louis XIII transfered to Pau.  The town grow thanks to the pimgrimage to Santiago de Compostela but in 1784 king Louis XVI ends the activities of the hospice of Utziat at Arros, Harambelts at Ostabat, and Saint-Palais, to create the hospital of Saint-Palais, been the capital of the kingdom of Navarra. The French revolution ends all that in 1790.

Some things to see here me think and some have written elsewhere are:

The mansion of D’Erdoy-Oyhenart  facing the Church of  Saint-Paul  is the Salle d’Erdoy,an old mansion where the pretender to the throne of Navarra Jeanne d’Albret married the historian   Oyhénart in 1627. Locally better known as the house of heads or maison des Têtes, for the five  bas-reliefs that decorates the facade; from left to right  the busts of Henri II, his daughter Jeanne d’Albret ,and Henri III of Navarra (future king Henri IV).

The Hôtel de La Monnaie , here while king Charles II of Navarra authorized Saint Palais to coin money, he installed the shop in the house of Angelu in 1351. Saint Palais had many people doing this trade of coinage , the shop was dismantled in 1672.

The house of the king or Maison du Roi  was a former palace and prison of the senators of Navarra from 1639 to 1790.  The house of the judges where the nobles were convened at its bells ringing to determine the sentences of the town.

Church of Saint-Paul built in the Middle Ages house the first Estates General of Navarra in 1523 ; later the reforme temple of religioni under Jeanne d’Albret and Henri IV. In 1524 it house the chancellery of Navarra that gives justice in the kingdom until 1624. The justice courthouse came here in 1790.

Church of Marie-Madeleine , a neo gothic Church built in 1866. It has artifacts of the old Church of Saint-Paul  such as a portrait of the apostle, a golden Virgin and a coffin. In 1888, it got an organ of Cavaillé-Coll. Passing by we were able to see this one.



The smaller but lively town of Saint Palais was a surprise for us, we saw it as a end of the line town and back, but instead we spent more time there walking all over, and seeing the wonderful Fronton of pelote basque , the regional sport. The wonderful covered market now ,also, use for events and concerts, and the nice Bidouze.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The City of Saint Palais on tourism:

The Basque country dept 64 tourist office on Saint Palais in French:

Hope it encourage you to visit this deep south of France, Saint Palais is lovely territory but you need a car.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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