beautiful scenic village, nice shops and charming 16C and 17C houses
should have spent 2 to 3 nights
The Pilgrim Road
The church of the little old city of St. Jean is in the rue d'Eglise and its west end projects over the bridge edge. It is called the Church of the Assumption or alternately Notre Dame. The western entrance has an arcade of small statues upon it of various types ranging from grotesques to church leaders to grape clusters and leaf groups.more
The Accueil des Pelerins, or Pilgrims' Welcome, is an oft-visited centre in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. It has information on the route and is a great place to meet up with other pilgrims en route to Santiago, but if you're not on your way to make the pilgrimage, there isn't really a lot to see or do here. Nevertheless, given the popularity of the...more
The Maison des Evêques is a mediaeval structure that is now open to the public as a museum. This area was frequently engulfed in the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, not least because of its proximity to Navarre, where King Henry I was a Protestant monarch. I don't remember the exact story behind the house, but I believe that at one...more
Rue de la Citadelle is the major street that runs through the old town of St. Jean Pied de Port. In fact, now that I think about it, it may be the only street running through the inside of the ramparts, if you exclude that little piece of Rue de France that enters through the Porte de France. This street is typically what you would expect from a...more
Rue d'Espagne is essentially the continuation of the Rue de la Citadelle on the opposite side of the Nive from the Citadelle. It does not have the same charm and old-world character of the town within the walls, and this is largely because it is packed with shops hawking anything and everything that might be considered Basque or Basque-inspired....more
Donebane Garazi is a fortified town, and its ramparts and various other defensive structures have been incredibly well maintained. It is one of the aspects of the town that is so attractive, especially if you walk up from the train station and enter through the Porte de France. Surprisingly, the ramparts can be accessed by simply going up...more
I know, this is a bit of a double-up tip: I have one on the Nive in my page on Bayonne too. The thing is that the Nive in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is quite different from the Nive at its confluence with the Adour. Here is where the Nive begins, in the torrents above Donebane Garazi, and here is where the Nive has a quintessentially Basque feel,...more
It seems like everything in Donebane Garazi is named Notre-Dame, which is perhaps also why everything has a second name. This old bridge, which crosses the Nive near the Porte Notre-Dame, is also known as the Pont Sainte-Marie or the Pont romain, despite the fact that it dates from the 1630s and not the Roman period. It provides pretty views of the...more
The Porte Notre Dame is interesting because it serves as both a gate and a clock tower for the Church next to it. It opens the ramparts of the old city onto the Nive and provides the continuation of the Rue de la Citadelle into the newer part of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. There is an interesting statue as well beneath the clock, adding to the mixed...more
The Église Notre Dame is a rather small, unassuming church at the end of the Rue de la Citadelle inside the ramparts of the old city. In fact, it is actually right up against the rampart walls, and part of the church juts out on the other side of the defensive line (see the fifth picture). It has an interesting statue of Jesus (I think that's...more
There are many restaurants and cafe's offering plat du jour of a lunch-time in this town. My advice is start looking for somewhere to eat just after 12pm as everywhere gets busy, especially in August.
We found Chez Peio by default as everywhere we looked, seemed to be busy the day were were there. However we noticed a couple leaving some seats outside this cafe and immediately took their place. I'm rarely dissapointed when eating out in France. Be patient if its August! It took a while to get served but we were not dissapointed by the food.
Favorite Dish: we ordered the lamb chops, which arrived with an enormous salad, a jug of the local Rosè wine and basket of bread. The lamb was divine.
from paris there is a fast train:paris-bordeaux-bayonne-biarritz-hendaye-irun(spain).....bordeaux has an international airport(mérignac) and so has biarritz(parme)
there is a cute little train from bayonne to saint-jean-pied-de-port(see its picture)
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, or Donebane Garazi (much the same in Basque) is in a heavily Basque-speaking area. This is rather odd for France, where the government and educational system were heavily stacked against the preservation of the Basque language. Perhaps the process of urbanization and the flight of youth to the cities has helped the language...more
I think that Donebane Garazi is far better for seeing and experiencing traditional Basque archtecture than is Bayonne. This is probably because Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a solidly Basque town, whereas Bayonne was mixed Basque-Gascon when it began growing in the Middle Ages, and then the city's architectural tastes were again affected by the...more
11 Reviews and Opinions
Unfortunately, my leg was bothering me badly when I visited Donebane Garazi, and I wasn't able to wandering about in the areas surrounding the town. It wasn't for lack of desire that I didn't hike a bit - the green hills and fields just call for you to take an hour or two to explore the valleys and paths. The countryside is absolutely spectacular,...more
I couldn't find the official name of this square, but it is pretty easy to find, as it is where the Route d'Uhart (a large street) meets the Rue d'Uhart (a small street branching off from the Rue d'Espagne). It has an interesting monument to a French politician, Charles Floquet. Actually, the monument is interesting because it is entirely in Basque...more