France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   St-Jean-de-Luz, France
A lovely beach town with a long nautical history.




If Biarritz is for the upper class, St-Jean-de-Luz (map) is delightfully for the rest of us. Its narrow streets tell of fishing and farming rather than fame and folly, except for the signal historical event that took place here: the marriage of King Louis XIV and Maria Theresa! The beautiful Église St-Jean-Baptiste where the wedding took place can be visited, as can the houses where they stayed prior to the wedding.

St-Jean-de-Luz was once a major whaling town; today it still has an active and colorful port, but the fishermen go for smaller catch, some of which turns up in nearby restaurants.

St-Jean-de-Luz is known for its beautiful Grande Plage, a large half-moon shaped beach that spans the town. The fine golden sand makes it a delightful place to sunbathe and swim. During the summer season, the beach will be crowded, but it's still a less-pressured atmosphere than in Biarritz and many Côte d'Azur resorts.

In the evenings, you can see some lovely sunsets from the beach.

St-Jean-de-Luz has a wonderful covered market, supplemented on Tuesdays and Fridays with an outdoor market. Check it out for picnic supplies, Basque specialties, or just the wonderful sights and smells. ]

The main street in the downtown area is the busy Boulevard Victor Hugo. The old town center, with its many narrow streets, is largely a pedestrian zone, with Rue Gambetta the main shopping street.

Need to do your laundry after a day at the beach? There is a Laverie, or laundry at 4 Avenue Thiers, just off of the Boulevard Victor Hugo.

Although St-Jean-de-Luz is definitely a tourist place, it's far enough out of the way that it is spared a little of the crowding that occurs at places that are more central. It's just 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Biarritz. There are frequent trains, and the drive is about 25 minutes (be aware that narrow streets and limited parking in both places may make the train more desirable). Bayonne is 26 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of St-Jean-de-Luz.

It's even closer to Hendaye, the border town with Spain, which is 12 kilometers or about 7 miles to the south. So if you want to experience Basque culture in Spain, you can do that easily from St-Jean-de-Luz.


St-Jean-de-Luz Hotels

What to See & Do

St-Jean-de-Luz Restaurants

St-Jean-de-Luz Transport

Tourist Information



Basque Country


Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel: three girls, so many secrets...


Houses, St-Jean-de-Luz

Above, Typical houses lining the sea wall in front of the Grande Plage, St-Jean-de-Luz.

Below, Sunset over the Grande Plage.


Sunset, St-Jean-de-Luz

St-Jean-Baptiste, St-Jean-de-Luz, France

Above, Interior of the church of St-Jean-Baptiste.

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