Saint-Jean-de-Luz used to be a hideout for Basque corsairs, but today it is a seaside resort with a relaxed atmosphere. The town is located in the middle of a crescent-shaped bay, and in the historic district there are colorful traditional Basque houses.
Only 20 minutes from Biarritz and similar in many ways, Saint-Jean-de-Luz is quite different: the atmosphere here is even more relaxed. The town is very busy in summer, but not overcrowded.
Most of the beautiful and imposing Basque houses that make up the old quarter date back to the 17th century, when Saint-Jean-de-Luz was one of the most important fishing ports in France.
The 17th century was also a time of transition: the city, whose main economic activity was fishing, became a real hideout for corsairs. With the blessing of the French king, these feared Basques sailed the seas to seek out and plunder the English and Spanish, as well as any other enemies of France.
These then became, without their knowledge, donors of the riches brought to the small port of Saint-Jean. Even today, the traces of this golden age are clearly visible in the streets of the seaside resort.
At the same time, on Pheasant Island next to Saint-Jean, the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed, ending the long conflict between France and Spain. The marriage of King Louis XIV and Maria Theresa, daughter of the Spanish king, was one of the consequences of the conclusion of this cross-border agreement.
Thus, in June 1660, one of the most important political weddings in history was celebrated in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, making this royal event a source of pride for Les Luziens to this day.
The main attraction of Saint-Jean-de-Luz is undoubtedly its beautiful beach, simply called Icon de numéro Grande plage. The crescent-shaped beach is protected from the waves by three huge dikes, which makes it the ideal place for families with children, not to mention the numerous activities and games offered along the boardwalk.
A walk along the promenade that runs along the entire bay is an absolute must. This way you can admire the extraordinary panorama: the Cantabrian Sea on the sea side and the Basque architecture on the city side.
The residential houses that line up along the beach have become the main landmark of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Many of them are connected to the promenade by a small bridge, which gives them an additional charm.