With its lively, clean streets decorated with flowers, quayside slipways and sunny terraces overlooking the River Adour and River Nive, Bayonne welcomes you on a journey rich in Basque and Gascon traditions of good food and festive fun. Bayonne is a city of daily delights.
Thanks to its way of life and age-old heritage, your visit will be a truly enjoyable and surprising experience.
And that’s not all. Bayonne is a great starting point for setting off to discover the Basque country !
City of Art and History
The splendour of Bayonne’s heritage lies in its history. The fortune of this ancient fortified city, which dates back more than 15 centuries, is closely linked to its location at the confluence of the Rivers Nive and Adour and close to the Spanish border. Bayonne has been granted the “City of Art and History” seal of approval in recognition of its 2,000 years of history and rich heritage!
Follow the guide! All year round, our approved tour guides invite you to accompany them on a fascinating visit to discover the city. Duration 2 hours, from €7 per person.
Sainte-Marie Cathedral with its two spires dominates the whole town. The influence of the Champenoise school of Gothic architecture, unusual among all the Gothic religious buildings in the south of France, is probably due to the knowledge conveyed by the pilgrims who passed by on their way to Santiago de Compostela. Its cloister, in the Flamboyant Gothic style, is one of the most spacious in France. The Bishop’s palace, situated opposite, and the churches of Saint André and Saint Esprit also show similar influences.
A fortified City
Like a ring of stone polished by several centuries of history, the ramparts mark the first boundaries of the city. Modified throughout the centuries, it was more particularly Vauban who was responsible for the current configuration. Château-Vieux, built on the remains of the ancient Roman castrum, is a massive medieval fortress located right in the centre of the city! Château Neuf, overlooking Petit Bayonne was built by Charles VII, just after the Hundred Years’ War. The Citadelle, which is also Vauban’s work, has its principal door facing south with an impressive, unobstructed view.
The Basque and History of Bayonne Museum : Founded in 1922, it displays many judiciously-chosen objects that are laid out in 20 theme-based rooms explaining the traditions of Basque society and the history of Bayonne.
Contact : www.musee-basque.com
Bonnat-Helleu Museum : Bayonne’s Museum of Fine Art is temporarily closed for renovation.
Shopping in Bayonne
A retail town that is busy all year round
Bayonne maintains its commercial traditions. Retail outlets are an attractive mixture of major chains and small picturesque shops that are in character with the preserved historic pedestrian centre. You will be able to enjoy some window-shopping and resist, if you can, the temptation of beautiful Basque household linen and the fascinating charm of items from bygone days that you will find in the antique and bric-a-brac shops located around the Cathedral. Or why not succumb to the appeal of some tasty regional products to be found in Bayonne’s indoor market, Les Halles, which has been reconstructed in the Baltard style.
In Bayonne, you can find everything from hats to shoes for all ages. There are many good bookshops and jewellers selling their unique creations. And when you feel that you can shop no more, catch your breath and enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of coffee while you watch the world go by from the terrace of one of the many bars and cafés.
Tourist information office with a retail space
The shop in the tourist information office is very popular and allows visitors to find presents and souvenirs from the Basque Country. It has Bayonne festival posters, T-shirts and Espelette pimento peppers. You are sure to find something from the Basque Country to take home with you!
A food-loving city
Bayonne has a long-standing gastronomic reputation. The town’s many chefs serve an array of specialities to titillate the taste buds of both eating enthusiasts and gourmet foodies. From the simple “pintxo” to more elaborate dishes and tasty regional cooking, you will inevitably find what you are looking for, and once you have found it you will want come back! Discover our restaurants without further delay!
Cider houses, gastronomic restaurants, traditional and exotic eateries, bistros and bodegas, Bayonne is lucky to have such an impressive choice. Like with our neighbours, the Spanish, you can also eat tapas in certain Bayonne bodegas. If you feel a little lost when faced with so much choice, just ask around you, the friendly locals will happily give you advice!
Bayonne and chocolate
Internationally known for its ham, Bayonne can also pride itself on being the historic capital of chocolate in France for over 400 years! When you visit, you will be able to hear all about this delicious chapter in the town’s history from our tourist guides.
Whether to eat or drink, Bayonne chocolate is famous for its precise mixes and good quality ingredients; it is a bitter black chocolate with a high amount of cocoa.
Today, the city still has seven leading chocolate makers. Their guild safeguards the know-how of chocolate making. All year round, the Académie du Chocolat promotes the renown of Bayonne chocolate and especially organises the famous Chocolate days.
La légende veut qu'au XIVème siècle, un sanglier abattu par Gaston Phoebus soit tombé dans les sources d'eau salées de Salies. À la saison suivante, il est retrouvé par des chasseurs en bon état de conservation. C'est ainsi qu'ils découvrent par la même occasion le meilleur des sels et ses vertus alimentaires...
Depuis, grâce au dynamisme du port de Bayonne, on exporte le fameux jambon. Jambon de Bayonne, c'est aussi une appellation qui défend sa réputation. Depuis 1998 une IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) identifie et protège les seuls vrais jambons de Bayonne selon un cahier des charges bien précis. Nos artisans vous accueillent toute l’année pour vous faire déguster cet excellent produit.
Legend has it that, in the 14th century, a wild boar killed by Gaston Phoebus, Count of Foix and Viscount of Béarn, fell into the salt-water springs in Salies. It was found, perfectly preserved, by the hunters when they returned the following season. So this is how they discovered the virtues of preserving food with salt. Since then, this famous ham has been exported around the world through the dynamic port of Bayonne.
Bayonne ham is also a product that defends its reputation, which has been duly acknowledged since 1998 with Protected Geographical Indication (IPG in French) status that identifies and protects the one true Bayonne Ham through the implementation of very precise specifications. Our artisans will welcome you throughout the year to taste this excellent product.
Learn more + about the hams of the Basque Country
Nature and the city
Pedestrians rule !
Bayonne enthusiastically cultivates time-honoured commercial traditions in its preserved historic pedestrian centre, which can be enjoyed with total peace of mind. What a pleasure to stroll down these old streets and do some open-air shopping!
For many years Bayonne has made efforts to reduce traffic in its city centre. Easily recognisable because of their bright orange colour, the electric shuttle buses criss-cross the whole city. They are free and operate every day from 7 am to 7 pm except on Sundays and bank holidays. Shuttle buses run every 6 minutes to the most popular city centre places and must-visit sites: museums, Saint Andre church, the Cathedral and also Château-Vieux are, of course, on the bus route.
Today, Bayonne has more than 40 kilometres of bicycle lanes in operation: a simple and enjoyable way to discover the city in total freedom. Vélibleu is an electric bike hire service that has been set up by the local council. It is possible to hire bikes for short periods from several docking stations in towns along the coast, from Hendaye to Tarnos. In Bayonne, there are two Vélibleu docking stations; one at the railway station in Saint-Esprit and the other on the banks of the River Adour, opposite the Town Hall.
Parks and natural sites
Nature is everywhere in the city and greatly enriches the biodiversity. Bayonne’s parks and gardens are an ideal place to relax and daydream thanks to their variety of style and rich plant diversity. Quality of life in Bayonne is intrinsically linked to the town’s abundant tree resources that are developed yearly. The parks department of Bayonne sustainably manages 180 hectares of lawns, flowerbeds, sports fields, playgrounds, tree-lined town squares and streets that are cared for by gardeners who care about the environment.
Plaine d’Ansot, Natural History Museum, Botanical Gardens, Leon Bonnat Square, the Poterne Gardens…… are just waiting for you to discover them!
- Pelote : In Bayonne, the king of sports is played not only on multiple open-air frontons but also on indoor trinquets. The Trinquet St Andre, in the heart of Petit Bayonne is the oldest in France, while the Modern Trinquet was the first in the world to have glass walls.
- Rowing : Rowing has long been part of the fabric of Bayonne and has been practised for many, many years on the Rivers Nive and Adour. In 1875, the "Société Nautique de Bayonne" was created, followed 30 years later by the creation of a rival association “L’Aviron Bayonnaise”.
- Golf : With more than 10 courses around Bayonne, the Basque Country is very popular with golf enthusiasts. Makila Golf Club situated 3 km from the city centre, designed by architect Rocky Roquemore, offers a course in a natural site facing the Pyrenees. Also very nearby is Chiberta Golf Course, one of the most beautiful seaside links in Europe. Le Phare Golf Course in Biarritz is one of the oldest courses in France, and has a firmly established reputation.
Rugby : Rugby is a sport close to the heart of Bayonne. The club Aviron Bayonnais is a strong symbol for the city. Champions of France for the Pro D2 in 2019 and back again in the TOP 14, discover the unique sky blue and white atmosphere of Jean Dauger stadium!
During your visit don’t miss the numerous monumental paintings on certain Bayonne buildings and the many art installations around the city centre. Today, there are about 80 works of Street Art to discover in Bayonne!
POINTS OF VIEW STREET ART FESTIVAL
Organised by the SpaceJunk Art Centre in Bayonne, this festival’s aim is to highlight Street Art in the Basque Country with a selection of international artists. Over the past three years, this cultural event has become an opportunity to discover different aspects of this worldwide art movement that SpaceJunk has helped make popular. From graffiti to nouveau muralism, the festival’s purpose is simply to take stock of current Street Art and raise the public’s awareness of this growing art form.
There are now close to 80 works of art to discover in Bayonne!