There is a city in France that when we were on holiday we were not meant to go to. However, we found a small amount of time in our schedule and popped on a bus to visit as we were only up the road in Biarritz. We ended up loving it so much we didn’t just spend half a day like we planned, we ended up spontaneously staying the night to have longer there.
Bayonne is located in the South West of France in the cultural region of the Basque country and is the Capital of the area. As of 2017 it is home to over 51,000 people. The area has a really interesting history and dates back to Pre History where it is speculated that it was the home to a fishing village. In the 1st Century AD Romans surrounded the city with a wall, in the middle ages it worked as a fortress and a port, in the Renaissance times it was captured by Jean De Dunois and trade played a huge part in the cities role in the French Revolution. This is just a hint of the rich history that Bayonne has.
Bayonne is located on the River Adour and the River Nive and is considered one of the prettiest waterside cities in the Southwest. There are many tourist attractions to see including Cathedrale Ste-Marie, Musee Basque et de l’Histoire de Bayonne, Rue des Faures and Musee Bonnat-Helleu just to name a few. The city is the home of the largest summer festival in France (Fetes de Bayonne) which runs between July to September. It is also renowned for it’s chocolate and local ham.
We visited Bayonne at Christmas time around the 27th, so we didn’t experience the liveliness of the summer but we did get to witness the wonder of the winter. It was so pretty and I understand why it got it’s reputation. The sheets are predominantly cobbled and you just want to get lost in them to find something new. At Christmas they really go to town, everywhere is illuminated in lights and there are two areas of Christmas fairs.
I really enjoyed visiting Bayonne and I am so glad that we stayed there longer then planned. We ate some great food (read about it here), saw some lovely sites and really got to appreciate the area.