Wednesday, February 10, 2010

St-Jean-De-Luz, Cote Basque

I thought I would continue with the theme of the Basque Coast and take you to St-Jean-De-Luz, on the French Atlantic coast,  it's only half an hour over the border from San Sebastian.

Whilst we were living in Paris we decided to take a month out and take a road trip round France. One of the places we visited was St-Jean-De-Luz. Unbeknown to us, we had arrived during the feast of St Jean, the towns patron saint.  The town centre was festooned with bunting, everybody was wearing red and black, (the towns colours), there was partying in the streets, a band playing in the town square, makeshift bars, serving very reasonably priced Champagne. Of course  we had no option but to join in, one of the locals kindly gave us each a red bandanna, so we would not feel left out. We have been regular visitors ever since.

St-Jean-De-Luz, was originally a sea port which specialized in whaling, a practice which started here as early as the 11th century, but now it's a traditional, lively fishing port. The whaling has long gone, now the local catch is sardines, anchovies and tuna.

The ambiance in St Jean is lovely, it is a typical Basque town with classic Basque architecture, which is mainly white buildings with predominately red painted wooden framework.  You will find a labyrinth of streets, crammed full of interesting shops, one of the specialties of the Basque country is top quality linen, so look no further for tableware, towels and cushion covers, in distinctive Basque design, usually involving colourful stripes.  There are loads of linen shops in and around St Jean, so if you are a linen lover you will be in heaven.

My choice of summer footwear, espadrilles. They originated in the Pyrenees and you will find plenty of places selling them. This is one of my favourite shops, selling the espadrille in every different style you can think of, smart silk evening ones, high heeled wedge ones and classics in every colour under the rainbow.

 Following the tradition for the Basque love of gastronomy there are loads of fine eating establishments, like San Sebastian, you will find lots of informal seafood restaurants in the port area. There will be lots of opportunities for sitting at one of the many pavement cafés to people watch and soak up the atmosphere. Oh, and there are also fabulous beaches.

 Some Basque facts: The Pays Basque straddles Spain and France, roughly between Bayonne in South West France and Bilbao in North West Spain.
Although the Basques speak French and Spanish the common language of the Basques is Euskara.
The origin of the Basque people and their language has always been a mystery.
Basque houses are usually east facing.
Pelota is the Basque national sport, it is played against a high coloured orange wall known as a fronton.
There have been many famous Basques, including the fashion designers, Paco Rabanne and Cristobal Balenciaga.


  1. thanks for stopping by's always good to see you...


  2. Well, with my latest economy drive. I really have to stay away from this gorgeous looking place. I adore linen shops and shoe shops - I would have a field day.

    I have a bit of a problem with espadrilles though. I have small feet - I take a 2.5 or a 3 (35/36) and even though espadrilles start off fitting me perfectly, after about a month they have stretched and then fall off.

  3. FF, sorry for the delay in responding, I got sidetracked with the news of Alexander McQueen. We are on an economy drive too (so tedious). My motto in life, when the pennies are short is: There will always be beautiful things to buy and nice places to go. Hopefuly we wont be on an economy drive for ever!
    As for your small feet, lucky you, my mother has tiny feet and does really well in the sales. As for the espadrilles you should try the childrens sizes.

  4. Gorgeous pictures, these striped napkins and cane cafe chairs out in the bright daylight is like a ray of sunshine coming into my wintry glass house!


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