Bayonne has some superb places to eat, and costs are generally much lower than in nearby Biarritz.

The covered market sits on the west bank of the Nive riverfront. There are a number of tempting food shops and delicatessens along rue Port Neuf and rue d'Espagne.

Bayonne Chocolate

Bayonne's long association with chocolate stems from a rather unlikely source – the Spanish Inquisition. Fleeing persecution, Jewish chocolate-makers fled their Spanish homeland, settling in Bayonne's St-Esprit neighbourhood, establishing the town's reputation for producing some of the finest chocolate anywhere in France. By 1870, Bayonne boasted 130 chocolatiers, more than in all of Switzerland – although now only around a dozen remain.

The town's premium makers are Daranatz and Cazenave, who are next door to each other on rue Port Neuf, but there are plenty more to try. You can see chocolate being made (Monday to Friday till 4pm; last tour 1½ hours before closing) during a tour of L'Atelier du Chocolat, which includes a historical overview of chocolate in Bayonne and, of course, the chance to taste the goods. It also has a shop on rue Port Neuf.

Bayonne hosts its own chocolate-themed weekend in May, Les Journées du Chocolat.