Colourful traditional basque houses in port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Shutterstock

St Jean de Luz travel guide

About St Jean de Luz

St Jean de Luz in Aquitaine is a beautiful coastal town with some great beaches, close to the Spanish border in what is known as the French Basque Country.

A pretty town with a distinct Basque identity, St Jean de Luz has a wonderful beach right in the centre of town. The Grande Plage of St Jean de Luz is sheltered by 3 impressive sea walls making it a safe beach for children who will love running about on the fine sand. There are beach clubs, and rental places for beach tents, loungers, deckchairs and more to make the most of your time in the sun. There are 4 other beaches around the town including Plage de Lafitéria, which is a good surf spot with some big waves and the Plage de Cénitz which is suitable for all levels of surfers including beginners. The water quality at all St Jean de Luz's beaches is checked daily and you can enjoy even more of the benefits of the seawater at the thalassotherapy spas in town. The beaches are a great place to try out some water sports such as surfing, kayaking, waterskiing, catamaranning and snorkelling.

If you prefer to stay land-based then why not have a go at Basque pelota and cesta punta? A traditional sport from the Basque region, pelota is a court sport played with your hands whilst cesta punta is faster and players wear a special 'basket' on one hand. You can watch the locals play at the fronton just off the Quai Maurice Ravel where a 'force basque' strong-man competition is also held in summer. Enjoy a themed tour around the town, explore the coastline on its cycling and walking routes, or why not take a boat trip to discover the beautiful coast from out at sea? St Jean de Luz is a town with a great party atmosphere and lots of festivals with dancing and singing throughout the year, particularly at Easter and the 5 day festival of St Jean in late June with lots of evening entertainment throughout the summer. There is some great shopping to be had in the old town close to the beach where art galleries, and contemporary and traditional boutiques provide lots of places for window shopping and buying souvenirs, and are even open on Sundays.

St Jean de Luz also has some great markets with a daily covered market and an outdoor market every Tuesday and Friday, and on Saturdays during the summer, when you can buy great food from local producers. Hake, sea bream, tuna and cod are all fish that feature strongly on local menus and are often served with herby or spicy pil-pil sauces. A fish stew containing lots of different fish and shellfish called ttoro is also popular, as are chipirons - small pieces of stuffed squid served with tomatoes. Those with a sweet tooth are also well served with the tasty almond biscuits known as macaroons; mouchons, which are similar to macaroons but smaller and made with lots of almonds and very little sugar; and kanouga, a soft dark chocolate or coffee caramel. Enjoy your meal with local Irouleguy wine and finish with a digestif of colourful Izarra liquer, available in almond or peppermint flavour.

OVERVIEW

  • Country: France

  • Region: Aquitaine

  • Department: Pyrénées-Atlantique

  • Population: 14,000

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