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St-Jean de Luz

If you're searching for the quintessential Basque seaside town – complete with atmospheric narrow streets, a lively harbour and a sparkling sandy beach – you've found it.

The attractive town of St-Jean de Luz, 24km southwest of Bayonne, grew up around the mouth of the River Nivelle as a fishing port, pulling in large catches of sardines, anchovies and, rather less salubriously, whales in bygone days. Later, like the rest of the Basque coastline, it became a fashionable resort for well-to-do French, English and Spanish tourists in the late 19th century, but the town still maintains a sizeable fishing fleet.

St-Jean and its sleepy sister town of Ciboure are linked by busy Pont Charles de Gaulle, which overlooks the fishing port. In summer, the best way to cross the river mouth is to catch one of the regular ferries that chug between the two.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout St-Jean de Luz.