The Basque city of Bayonne sits just north of Biarritz in the Southwest of France, and about six kilometres from the Bay of Biscay. Bayonne was occupied by the Romans in the third century A.D., and was visited by the Vikings in the ninth. England occupied the city as the southern point of its lands from 1151 to 1452, and it was important during the Franco years as a place for Basques to seek refuge.
Bayonne’s festival, Fêtes de Bayonne, takes place in early August, and the city is one of the few left in France that still has bullfights. Bayonne is famous for chocolates and ham, Jambon de Bayonne. I also found out, along with a tasting, that jams and honey are produced locally, and important to the area.
On my last post, A Walk in Biarritz, France Part Two, I concluded my beautiful afternoon walk in the seaside resort city before boarding a bus to nearby Bayonne. Now, I’ll continue in the medieval city of Bayonne, where I spent a glorious evening and morning. As for the night, I have had better accommodations. However, I survived my stay at a hotel, and didn’t get accosted by ghosts, bed bugs, or anything else. If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, I arrived in Bayonne on page 20. If you don’t have my book, you will still be able to enjoy this post.
The Adour River has long been commercially important, and for the defence of the city and region. It rises in the central Pyrenees and flows 335 kilometres to the Bay of Biscay. This photo, taken near the Hotel Loustau in Sainte-Bayonne (not where I stayed), facing southwest. Petit-Bayonne is across the river, on the left, and Grand Bayonne is on the right. The Pont Saint-Esprit links Sainte-Bayonne to Petit-Bayonne. The cathedral, Cathédrale Sainte-Marie, is in the distance and is situated in Grand Bayonne.
The plaza and park at the confluence of the Adour and the Nive in Petit-Bayonne. Across the Nive is Grand Bayonne.
The typical style of architecture along the rivers in Bayonne. These two photos were taken along the Nive; the first in the evening and the next, in the morning.
It was during the evening, I had a romantic French dinner by myself while overlooking the Adour River. From a bridge on the Nive:
Before it got dark, I watched a football or soccer team practice. The local ruby team is Aviron Bayonnais and the football team is Aviron Bayonnais FC.
After a poor sleep in my creepy hotel room, I woke up early for more sightseeing. As you can tell, it was a beautiful Spring morning. Across the Adour is the Citadel of Bayonne, originally built in the fifteenth century, but became more prominent in later centuries. The Chemins de Memoire (Paths of Memory) has an excellent history of the Bayonne Citadel and other places of historical interest.
The botanical garden, Jardin Botanique de Bayonne, was established in the late 1990′s and has over 1,000 species of plants with a Japanese flavour.
The Chateau Vieux was originally built in the eleventh century, although there is little standing from earlier years. It’s currently owned by the French Army and is not open to the public.
The Bayonne railway station, Gare de Bayonne, just before I left for St. Jean Pied de Port and the Camino de Santiago. It was a busy place with other pilgrims gathering, eager to begin the Camino Francés. At the time, the railway tracks were being rebuilt or maintained, so there was a bus to St. Jean Pied de Port. Here’s the link to the SNCF website where you can download a schedule. Please make sure it’s current before you make plans.
One last look at the old city and the subject of my next post.
I hope you enjoyed this post. On my next one, THE CATHEDRAL, CATHEDRALE SAINTE-MARIE DE BAYONNE, BAYONNE, FRANCE, I’ll visit the Bayonne Cathedral, before boarding a bus for a pleasant ride to St. Jean Pied de Port, and the start of the Camino de Santiago. Please join me.
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