After visiting Hendaya, take the road know as the ‘Route de la Corniche’ (D912) to Ciboure, enjoying the views of the sea and fields along the way. The picturesque facades of Ciboure’s traditional houses really catch your eye – in one of these houses, the musician Maurice Ravel was born, as was his famous bolero.
No sooner having crossed the bridge over the river Adour you enter Saint Jean de Luz, a fishing village famous for being the home to whalers and pirates. Here you can visit the beautiful church of San Juan Bautista, which, unusually, has no columns and a surprising grand wooden balcony in traditional Basque style. Here Luis XIV of France married Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain in 1660. Proof of this link remains in the bricked up door through which the newly weds left the Church. Don’t hesitate to walk down Calle Gambetta (Gambetta Street), bustling with people tempted by the many shop window displays. You can also visit the Museo Grevin (Grevin Wax Museum), and the houses of Luis XIV and Infanta Maria Teresa (Casa de la Infanta). The picturesque street leading from Luis XIV square towards the sea contains the oldest houses in the city.
Continuing on the RN10, you’ll find Biarritz, a jewel of a city. Full of contrasts, from the ‘Port Vieux’, to the casino and mansions – this is where Napoleon III married Eugenia de Montijo in 1853. Their residence is what we now know today as the Hotel de Palais. In the belle époque, the European aristocracy came to bask in its waters and its atmosphere – Alfonzo XIII, the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia, and the Shah of Persia all bathed here. The attractions of Biarritz are many: ballet, surf, the Latin-American Film Festival, golf courses, and Thalassotherapy. For this reason there is never a lack of actors, models, or businesspeople walking its streets or browsing in its boutiques.
Just five kilometres away is Bayonne. A fortified city under British rule for many years, it was also a centre of commerce. Eleanor de Aquitania married Henry Plantagenet here, and their son Richard the Lionheart also came to visit the land of his ancestors and marry a princess from Navarre. Later, Bayonne was the centre for his disputes with the Kingdom of Spain and became a military base, with reinforced walls and defences. It is worth visiting the Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria, which dates back to the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries and has a clear English influence. Its two spires are the tallest in the Basque Country. Lose yourself in Bayonne’s streets and enjoy its houses, shops and bridges. You can visit the Basque Museum and the León Bonnat Museum, a large art collection with works by Goya, Dürer, Michaelangelo and Raphael.
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