What to do in Saint Jean de Luz: must-see places for sightseeing, eating and walking
Published on: 03/02/2021
Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a town renowned on the Basque coast for its historical heritage, fishing port, gastronomy and popular surfing beaches. What to do? What to see Where to go? We tell you everything you need to know to visit Saint-Jean-de-Luz on your camping vacation in the Basque Country. Follow the guide!
In Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in the footsteps of Louis XIV
If you’re looking for things to do in Saint Jean de Luz (Donibane Lohizun in Basque) during your camping holiday and you’re a history buff, you won’t be disappointed!
The architectural jewel of the royal city, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church invites us to walk in the footsteps of the great Sun King during his youth. It was here that the marriage of Louis XIV and the Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain took place on June 9, 1660. They are both 22 years old. Inside, you can admire a monumental gilded wooden altarpiece, one of the finest in the Basque Country, housing eighteen statues of saints.
The memory of the Sun King also lives on in the Lohobiague Enea house, better known as Maison Louis XIV. This elegant mansion, built by a wealthy shipowner around 1640, is famous for having hosted the young monarch for 40 days during his union with the Infanta of Spain. The magnificent residence, still inhabited, is open to visitors.
Further on, overlooking the port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the “Maison de l’Infante” recounts the royal wedding of the Queen of Navarre and the young sovereign. All in pink brick, this delightful 17th-century Italian-style residence houses a small museum that history and heritage enthusiasts will be eager to visit. The oratory extending from the lounge offers a splendid view of the port and the Rhune.
Les Halles de Saint-Jean-de-Luz, an ode to Basque gastronomy
For lovers of Basque cuisine, a visit to the Halles de St Jean de Luz is a must. Cheeses, hams, meats, fresh fish, Irouléguy wines and other local specialities share the stalls, to the delight of gourmets. Then it’s off to the terrace for a bite to eat, a bite to eat, a drink or a few typical Basque pintxos.
A little shopping in Rue Gambetta
Just a hundred meters from the famous Place Louis XIV and theSaint-Jean-Baptiste church, rue Gambetta is a must for those wishing to bring back a Basque souvenir from their camping holiday near Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
Praised for its postcard decor, Basque houses with painted half-timbering and colorful balconies, this long pedestrian street links Les Halles to the port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. It’s packed with local stores, from delicatessens to boutiques selling Basque linens, rope espadrilles, leather goods and much more. You’ll also find the best pastry chefs in Luz – Adam, Pariès and Etchebaster – to stock up on macaroons, mouchous, kanougas, chocolates and tourons. And don’t forget the famous Basque cake filled with cream or black cherry!
The port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz
Privateers in the 17th century, followed by whaling in the 18th century, contributed to the fame of the port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Today, a flotilla of some twenty boats is the pride of the ancestral Luzian port, one of the most beautiful in France.
The trawlers leave early in the morning and return to port at 1pm. A race against time ensues to land the day’s fresh fish. Hake, tuna and anchovies are available from fishmongers in the Halles district.
The coastal path and Pointe de Sainte-Barbe
While camping near Saint-Jean-de-Luz, take a stroll along the coastal path from Senix beach to the port. From the top of Sainte-Barbe hill, you can enjoy an exceptional panorama of the bay of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the Socoa fort , the ocean and the Pyrenees.
Six beautiful beaches for sunbathing, swimming and surfing
When it comes to beaches, Saint-Jean-de-Luz has nothing to envy its Basque neighbors. Right in the center of town, Grande Plage is the resort’s largest and most beautiful beach. It is bordered by the Promenade Jacques Thibaud and offers a lovely view of Ciboure and the surrounding area. Socoa. You can also relax on the beach at Lafitenia and the Senix (spots for confirmed surfers), the beach of Mayarco (bordering the small seaside resort of Guéthary) or the sandy and pebble beach of Erromardie.