saint palais, en bord de la Bidouze au Pays Basque

Saint Palais, the ancient capital of Navarre


In the heart of the Basque Country, Saint-Palais (Donapaleu, in Basque) is the central point between the three provinces of Labourd, Basse Navarre and Soule.
Strolling through the streets, you can discover traces of its royal past as capital of the Kingdom of Navarre. The village has managed to preserve many traditions including its Basque strongman games, a festival that is famous throughout the region.
We recommend taking a break to admire the River Bidouze that flows through the village.

Not to be missed

In the heart of the village

Donapaleuko Bihotzean

The Bidouze

saint palais, en bord de la Bidouze au Pays Basque

The source of the River Bidouze is located in Arbailles forest. It crosses more than 20 Basque municipalities including Saint-Palais. The Bidouze riverbanks in Saint-Palais are the ideal place to stop for a refreshing break or a family picnic. A short walk allows you to prolong your exploration of the riverbanks and admire the reflection of the houses and the old windmill in the water.   

The Museum of Lower Navarre

The Museum of Lower Navarre traces the history of Lower Navarre and the village. The visit offers different themes which relate the history of Lower Navarre and Saint Palais: the prehistoric period, the Roman presence, the new towns of Lower Navarre, the Chancellery of Navarre, the mint of Saint Palais, Basque pelota, Saint Palais in the 19th century, the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, craftsmanship, lapidary art and agriculture in Lower Navarre.
Not far from the museum, you can discover the street of the Palace of Justice, also known as the "old royal street of Navarre". Don't miss the "House of the Heads" with its sculpted heads on the façade. It is also known as the noble house of Derdoy-Oyhenart.

Ancient capital of the Kingdom of Navarre

Saint-Palais is the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Navarre. For many years the town was the administrative capital and benefitted from important privileges such as minting coins: a privilege that lasted for almost 400 years. The most impressive feature remaining from this time is the Hôtel de la Monnaie, located on the street of the same name. Along your walk you will be able to admire the building's facade.

Crossroads of the Ways of Saint James

The village has also been strongly characterised by the Compostela route. Indeed, just 4km from the village stands the Gibraltar stele. This stele symbolises the great importance of this place to the pilgrims heading towards Santiago de Compostela. It marks the place where the three main Compostela routes join together: the Tours route, the Vézelay route and the Puy-en-Velay route. From the Gibraltar stele, the Compostela roads become one, the Camino Francés, which allows walkers to reach Ostabat, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and then Spain through Roncesvalles.

jardin espace chemin bideak
Espace Chemin Bideak

The Espace Chemins Bideak centre in Saint-Palais is the starting point for the walk that allows you to visit the Gibraltar stele. It’s also the perfect place to learn more about the impact of the Compostela route on the Basque village. This site was the former Franciscan convent of Saint-Palais. Now entirely restored, it is surrounded by a superb park and landscaped garden, echoing the landscapes of the Basque mountains


Capucinade, also known as traditional flambé pigeon

chefs du village en train de faire cuire les palombes au capucin
Carole Pro

The arrival of autumn in Saint-Palais and the rest of the Basque Country marks the beginning of the pigeon hunting season. It’s also the season for the famous Capucinade. This well-known tradition is a day of celebration at the beginning of November. Its aim is to showcase one of the region’s gastronomic specialities: pigeon cooked with a capucin, a traditional iron utensil. The local chefs gather in the town centre to cook the wood pigeon for the public using the traditional capucin. The most important part is the tasting! 

Immersion in the Capucinade

capucin, outil de cuisson pour les palombes
Carole Pro

Berripaperan harpide

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