Visit Bayonne: 7 museums not to be missed!

Published on: 19/11/2021

What better way to visit Bayonne without missing out on any of its treasures than with a detour to the city’s museums? Listed as a “Ville d’Art et d’Histoire” (City of Art and History), Bayonne is brimming with museums and exhibition spaces, each more interesting than the last. Discovery.

1. The Basque Museum

Located in the center of old Bayonne, in the former home of a wealthy 17th-century merchant, the Musée Basque houses the most important collection of art and ethnography devoted to Basque culture and the history of Bayonne. With over 2,000 objects and works of art, the museum tells the social, technical and cultural history of Basque society, from 200 BC to the present day. With 3,000 m2 of exhibition space, visitors can discover Basque culture in all its facets: customs, costumes, language, song, dance, music, architecture, craftsmanship and more. It’s also an opportunity to plunge into the heart of Basque maritime and river activities. Adour gascon and Nive euskarienne. A must-see museum for understanding the Basque country, its culture and its history. Address: Maison Dagourette, 37 quai des Corsaires, 64100 Bayonne,

2. The Bonnat-Helleu Museum

Located in Petit Bayonne, the Musée Bonnat-Helleu is the Musée des Beaux-Arts of the city of Bayonne. The museum presents over 7,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings and objets d’art from the Renaissance to the 20th century. Archaeological collections stand alongside masterpieces by El Greco, Rubens, Goya, Ingres, Delacroix, Corot, Courbet and Degas… Alongside the Louvre, it is the only French museum to preserve works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. Address: 5 rue Jacques Laffitte, 64100 Bayonne,

3. The Bayonne Architecture and Heritage Interpretation Center (CIAP)

During your stay in Bayonne, discover the history and heritage of the Basque city. Built above a medieval cellar dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, between the Cathedral and the Château-Vieux, the Centre d’Interprétation d’Architecture et du Patrimoine (CIAP) traces the city’s architectural, urban and landscape evolution, as well as Bayonnais river and port history, from Roman antiquity to the present day. Videos, an interactive table and sound shows complete the tour. Address: 7 rue des Gouverneurs, 64100 Bayonne

Also on the campsite blog: if museums aren’t your cup of tea, find out how to visit Bayonne on foot without ever getting bored!

4. The Chocolate Museum

Bayonne is the chocolate capital of France! So what could be more natural than to visit the museum dedicated to this fabulous product that makes all gourmets melt? Founded by the Andrieu family in 1951, l’Atelier du Chocolat offers a fun and instructive introduction to the chocolate-making trade. Discover the history of Basque cocoa and chocolate, the cultivation of cocoa trees, and the antique machines used in artisan chocolate-making, with a tasting session to follow. And to spice up the visit, children can take part in a chocolate painting workshop and take their creations home. Address: 7 allée de Gibéléou, 64100 Bayonne,

5. Natural History Museum

Situated on the Ansot plain along the River Nive, Bayonne ‘s Natural History Museum is the only one in France to be located in the middle of a natural area. Classified as a “Sensitive Natural Area”, this 100-hectare environmental and heritage site was founded around 1856. It features a permanent exhibition devoted to the flora and fauna of the Barthes de la Nive and the biodiversity of the Pyrenees. Awarded the “Musée de France” label, the Natural History Museum houses a collection of 20,000 objects relating to zoology, botany, geology and ethnology. A place that is still little-known to visitors, offering an immediate change of scenery! Address: 51 chemin d’Ansot, 64100 Bayonne

6. Rugby Museum

In Bayonne, there’s ham, chocolate, pelota and…RUGBY! At the heart of the Stade Jean Dauger, discover a space entirely dedicated to the oval ball. The small museum traces the history of Aviron Bayonnais and other legendary teams from the South-West. Among the museum’s highlights is a fine collection of match shirts. An unmissable place of pilgrimage for all lovers of the game! Address: Rugby Tattoo Family Muséum, 36 bis avenue du Capitaine Resplandy, 64100 Bayonne, more info

7. The French Beret workshop

Make the most of your day in Bayonne to visit the Béret Français workshops, the last remaining manufacturers of this emblematic headgear of the Basque country and Béarn. Discover the long history of the traditional Basque beret and the different stages in its manufacture. The wool comes from Merino sheep, one of the oldest breeds of sheep. The wool is felted by hand, guaranteeing comfort, warmth and waterproofing. After the tour, visitors can take home a 100% Basque beret, at factory prices! A lovely souvenir to take home with you from your camping vacation in the Basque Country! Address: 28 chemin du Trouillet 64100 Bayonne, Self-guided tour or guided tour (45 min) by appointment on 06 89 86 44 15.

photo©CDT64 (Musée Basque de Bayonne)