A trip to the Côte Basque would not be complete without a visit to the beautiful port city of Saint Jean de Luz, named after St. John the Baptist and just a few kilometers from Spain. It’s wealth stems from its port and its past, with the town being associated with either fishing or from the capture of vessels by its own Basque corsaires, or pirates. We had heard that this was a gem not to be missed so we spent a few afternoons here. Because it was August the center was crowded with people and live music radiated from the central piazza close to the port, we found this village to be no sleepy town.
On a side note, we spotted a fresh baguettes everywhere, and I mean everywhere. You couldn’t sneeze without having this famous bread in your face. We saw a very fashionable man in green pants stopped in his tracks listening to the local band play, baguette in bag. He had style (said in a French accent) we had to admit. Also a little too much in sight were delicious desserts including the gateau basque (local cake) and beautiful street art.
The beach was full of people picnicking and hanging-out at any time of the day. There is really neat stone pathway from the the beach to a boardwalk full of restaurants and shops with many families wandering around enjoying a sunset stroll. The architecture of the houses are very unique – with long wooden pathways leading to the pathway next to the beach.
We ended up grabbing meals at a few different places – one was an impressive cold buffet of seafood dishes and desserts, included a chocolate eclair from heaven and chocolate mousse with basil & mint. We also had fresh mussels with a gorgeous peperoncino sauce and a selection of cheeses and jams. YES!
We happened to stumble upon a music concert in the 13th-century church of St John the Baptist where Louis XIV married Marie-Thérèse of Austria in 1660. After following a young French student, we took our places and listened to the beautiful flute and organ concert by an esteemed musician who played in the famous Notre Dame de Paris. It was so beautiful, the flute sounded incredibly strong on it’s own and with the organ (played by the musicians wife) made for a really nice night for us two.
It’s safe to say that we will be back here again, eating more seafood, crashing more concerts and maybe even stealing a baguette or two. The next (and last) post in my beautiful Basque series will be on pinxtos heaven – San Sebastian.