Around Bayonne – much visited coast in France

On first of May 2019 we take our car, leave Hondarribia and Spain and return to France. It is only about 30kms to Bayonne. At the border we get confused. We are in France, but at the next roundabout, we find a Repsol gasoline station. Right, we are back in Spain.

Using the Route Nationale, we drive along the coast line and find a free parking space right near the old castle in the center of Bayonne. We walk through the narrow streets of Grand Bayonne, with the typical half-timbered Basque houses that we already know from Hondarribia in Spain.

We reach the river Nive which separates Grande Bayonne from Petite Bayonne and which enters the river Adour later.

After an espresso, we visit the gothic cathedral Ste Marie which is not far from the river.

We love the ambiance inside the cathedral…

… and in the cloister.

The cloister is very busy on this first of May. There is a market of creative handicrafts, made by artists from the area.

For lunch we enjoy tapas, ham of Bayonne, cheese from the area and tasty paté.

In the narrow streets we look for the old palace Bélzunce from the 15th century.

This house may need some renovation, though the Salon de Thé on the ground floor looks inviting.

I have already learnt that the Bayonet was invented in Bayonne in 1703. This window tells me that the Makila, the armed stick (la canne armée), has also been invented in Bayonne.

We cross the Nive using the lowest bridge and look upriver.

Vauban has fortified Bayonne after the Peace Treaty of the Pyrenées in 1659. This is the part that protected Petite Bayonne.

The main church in Petite Bayonne is called Saint André. It has been built around 1850.

We return to Grande Bayonne. Not far from the old castle we catch another view of the cathedral Ste Marie.

Then we pick up our car and drive along the coast to Biarritz. We drive along the coast line with many, many fin de siècle grand hotels. The coast line promenade is full with tourists, and there is no place to stop. We continued south of Biarritz to a place called “Chambre d’Amour” with lush mansions, huge hotels and cliffs.

People are swimming in the cold water enjoying the waves of the Atlantique.

We continue to St-Jean-de-Luz. Tourists and tourists… just 7 parking spaces left in one of the park houses. We found one of the slots (uff, narrow!), have a drink in the Pergola and watch life on the windy beach of this beautiful protected bay.

St-Jean-de-Luz has a pretty old city with the cathedral Saint Jean the Baptist built in the 17th century.

The altar and the wooden balconies give it a solemn atmosphere. When Louis XIV married the oldest daughter of Philippe IV from Spain here in 1660, this church was still under construction.

We follow the coast line to Hendaye and stop above the cliffs. I catch the evening ambiance.

Hendaye and Hondarribia both stretch along the Rio Bidasoa, Hendaye on the French side and Hondarribia on the Spanish side. This is the view of Hondarribia seen from Hendaye.

The evening sun plays with the water here.

We say good-bye to another great day. Now we understand why Napoleon III loved to recover near the rocky Basque coast that also offers sandy beaches.

 

 

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