SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ AT A GLANCE

France - - Take A Stroll -

Stay the night at… Hô­tel Odalys Er­ro­mardie and the ad­join­ing Rési­dence Iratzia (dou­bles from €69, odalys-va­cances. com), which of­fers stan­dard ho­tel rooms and self-cater­ing apart­ments re­spec­tively on the out­skirts of town. It is five min­utes from a beach and the coastal path, where you can stroll through the Jardin Botanique on the way into town and avoid the traf­fic. The ho­tel has a heated out­door swim­ming pool from April to Oc­to­ber, ten­nis courts and a res­tau­rant. Stop for lunch at… the bustling Le Ma­jes­tic café-bar (tel: (Fr) 5 59 26 01 36) on Place Louis XIV and grab the best seats over­look­ing the square. The food is ex­cel­lent value, while the ser­vice is quick and ef­fi­cient.

WHAT TO SEE

Mai­son Louis XIV, near the har­bour, (open Apr-nov, ad­mis­sion €6.50, maison­louis-xiv.fr) oc­cu­pies part of the Mai­son Lo­ho­bi­ague, which was built in the 1640s by Joan­nis de Lo­ho­bi­ague, a wealthy ship mer­chant and mayor of the town. It is still owned and lived in by mem­bers of the same fam­ily. The house charts sig­nif­i­cant mo­ments in the history of Saint-je­ande-luz and France, in­clud­ing the royal mar­riage. The Sun King and mem­bers of the court stayed here for 40 days in the lead-up to the wed­ding.

Église Saint-jean-bap­tiste, the largest Basque church in France, dates from the 14th cen­tury. Ex­ten­sion work be­gan in the late 1640s to ac­com­mo­date the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion: wooden bal­conies were added for the men­folk and a lav­ish Baroque al­tar­piece in­stalled. A model boat hangs from the rafters in trib­ute to the town’s fish­er­men, although it is also thought to act as a barom­e­ter.

The Mai­son Adam pâtis­serie and

con­fis­erie in Rue de la République (maison­adam.fr) was founded in 1660 and of­fers a taste of the Basque coun­try in­side and out. Its spe­cial­ity is the al­mond mac­aron, made to the same recipe cre­ated for Louis XIV’S wed­ding. The ex­te­rior is adorned with red and black espelette pep­pers, just as you might see them, for real, hang­ing out to dry in the town af­ter which they are named.

GET­TING THERE: The ferry ports of Bil­bao and San­tander are a 1hr 30min and 3hr 30 min drive re­spec­tively (tel: 0330 159 7000, brit­tany­fer­ries.co.uk); The air­port at Biar­ritz is a 25min drive; The town is an 8hr train jour­ney from Lon­don via Paris. TOURIST IN­FOR­MA­TION: Saint-jean-de-luz tourist of­fice, tel: (Fr) 5 59 26 03 16, saint-jean-de-luz.com; Pays Basque tourism, ter­reet­cote­basques.com; Dé­parte­ment: Pyrénées-at­lan­tiques (64).

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