Rendez-vous in Saint-Jean-de-Luz
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, on the delightful Basque Coast
France’s gateway to Spain, Saint-Jean-de-Luz is an authentic town with a particularly rich history. A child of the sea, Saint-Jean-de-Luz was once a major whaling centre. Even today, it serves as a fishing port for tuna, sardines and anchovies. Over the centuries, Saint-Jean-de-Luz has become a famous sea resort that has managed to preserve its authenticity.
A key event in the city’s history was the marriage of King Louis XIV to the Infanta of Spain in 1660. In addition to its rich heritage sites – the Maison de l’Infante (Infanta’s House), Louis XIV’s house, and the Basque Ecomuseum – the city offers a wide range of activities such as golf, water sports, hiking, pelota (jai alai), ocean excursions, fishing trips, and more.
The delightful lifestyle here can be enjoyed all year long, including long strolls along the beaches, leisure activities, thalassotherapy and other health spas. The numerous shops in the centre of town are open on Sunday's throughout
the year, and are served by quiet pedestrian streets. Every Sunday at 11am a musical performance takes place around Place Louis XIV, so that
strollers can enjoy the music or dance from a café terrace.
Basque cuisine is rustic in style with an emphasis on fish and seafood, the latter the result of the region’s location on the Atlantic Ocean. Hake, sea bream, tuna and cod are all featured heavily on local menus, often served with a delicious herb or spicy "pil pil" sauce. Ttoro, a type of Basque fricassée, is a fish stew featuring cod, tuna, angler fish, etc. "Chipirons" are small stuffed squid served with tomatoes. For dessert, appreciate the gâteau basque (cake with fruit filling).
Local Saint-Jean-de-Luz specialities :
In 1660, Monsieur ADAM created the subtle and delicious masterpiece we now know as the macaroon, made from a mixture of almond paste, sugar, ground almonds and egg whites.
During the wedding of Louis XIV to the Infanta of Spain, Monsieur Adam made some of his confections for the new king. Louis found the macaroons delightful, and his approval guaranteed that these delicacies became extremely popular with the Court. The Pâtisserie ADAM still exists in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, with the secrets of its recipe passed down from father to son.
In 1950, Robert PARIES invented another speciality, the mouchou.
These small, light and soft macaroons are made with lots of almonds and very little sugar, enveloped in a thin and crunchy outer layer, and prepared in twos, with one on top of the other.
It is said that mouchous are so exquisite that nothing can compare with them, except for "muxu", which is the Basque word for "kisses".
Another speciality produced by the Maison Pariès, the "kanouga" was invented around 1914. This soft black chocolate (or coffee) caramel can also be made with walnuts or hazelnuts.
Saint-Jean-de-Luz is known first and foremost for its long beach of fine soft sand, protected from the ocean by three impressive sea walls. This delightful beach full of character is a perfect swimming spot for the whole family. However, the town also boasts a plethora of other wilder beaches, ideal for activities such as surfing. The Grande Plage (Large Beach) is protected by jetties, so that swimming and nautical activities can be enjoyed safely by young and old alike.
The botanical gardens in the Erromardie neighbourhood open in the spring to allow the entire family to discover plants and flowers native to the seaside.
Saint Jean de Luz is an ideal base for exploring the Basque country. Its outstanding setting is within easy reach of cities such as Bayonne and Biarritz, as well as Basque villages such as Aïnhoa, Sare, and others.