St Jean Pied de Port Travel Guide, French Basque Country


St Jean Pied de Port Tourism Guide

Deep in the French Basque Country’s hinterland lies St. Jean Pied-de-Port. It’s an unspoiled village that is surrounded by a green landscape making it great place for those wanting to go hiking or those in search of solitude & relaxation.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is the capital of the historical Basque province of Lower Navarre. Donibane Garazi as it is also known in Basque, is a small town located on the Nive River, only 8 kilometers away from the Spanish border.

The town is famous for being one of the traditional starting points of the Way of St. James (the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela). It is located on the Roncevaux Pass at the base of the Pyrenean Mountains and the name “Pied-de-Port” actually means “foot pass.”

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a walled town and has numerous gates. The most well known is the number icon Porte St-Jacques which was, along the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France, made a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1998. Inside, the town is pretty small but nonetheless charming. The number icon Pont d’Eyheraberry (Eyheraberry bridge) over the Nive River is a romantic roman bridge and one of the highlights of the town.

Saint Jean Pied-de-Port Tourism
Old Town of St Jean Pied de Port
Things to Do in Saint Jean Pied-de-Port
Houses by the river

You shouldn’t leave Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port without walking up the Rue de la Citadelle (Citadel Street) to the number icon Mendiguren Citadel. From there, you get a nice panorama view of the town and the surrounding green countryside with the mountains in the background. The citadel, built in 1628 by Antoine de Ville, now houses a school and is unfortunately not opened to the public.

Doorway to the citadel, St Jean Pied de Port, Basque Country, France
Doorway to the citadel

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is also well known for its inscriptions over the doors of almost every house in the town. One of these inscriptions is from a bakery, where the price of wheat from 1789 can still be read. These different inscriptions were used during the Basque Renaissance of the early 1900’s as a starting point for creating the Basque Typography that can now be found throughout the region.

Inscription above doorway, St Jean Pied de Port, Basque Country, France
Inscription above doorway

Hotels in St Jean Pied de Port

Hotels in St Jean Pied de Port

Get In & Around

Get In & Around

Once you have arrived in St Jean Pied de Port, everything is reachable by foot.

Arriving to St Jean Pied de Port

PLANE – The closest airport is in Biarritz, 53km away. From the airport, it is possible to take a train to Bayonne and, from there, another one to St Jean Pied de Port.

CAR – St Jean Pied de Port is crossed by the roads D933 and D918. The D933 (which becomes the N-135 in Spain) will take you to Pamplona in about 90 minutes (75 km). The road D918 connects St Jean Pied de Port with Bayonne in about 1 h (50 km).

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BUS – There is a daily bus from Pamplona to Saint Jean Pied de Port, it takes about 1h 45 minutes and is operated by ALSA. The company Transports64 operates a bus line that connects St Jean Pied de Port with St Palais and St Etienne de Baigorry.

Express Bourricot offers buses from Saint Jean Pied de Port to many surrounding locations.

TRAIN – There is a train station in Saint Jean Pied de Port that is located in the Avenue de la Gare (Station Avenue). There are 4 direct trains per day from Bayonne to St Jean Pied de Port and it takes about 80 minutes. From Bayonne, it is possible to catch the high-speed line (TGV) to Paris as well as many other regional train services.

Other Places of Interest in the Surroundings

In the Surroundings

Map of St Jean Pied de Port

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