St. Jean de Luz, France Cruise Port

Not far from the Spanish border is the cruise port of St. Jean de Luz, France, a Pyrénées-Atlantiques department and part of the Basque province of Labourd. More frequently spelled Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the town is east of the Bay of Biscay, whose strong sea walls protect it from the full force of the North Atlantic Ocean. Even though the area’s prosperity peaked in the 17th century, it eventually became a popular seaside resort once again, especially among those who live along the Basque coast. Other draws to the area are rich Basque cuisine, which includes an emphasis on fish and seafood, along with delightful macaroons for dessert; music lovers will be thrilled by a long tradition of instruments dating back to the Stone Age and a plethora of Basque choirs performing in the region. Listed below are a handful of our favorite experiences when cruising to St. Jean de Luz, France:
 
  • The Basque church known as Église St-Jean Baptiste may look simple on the outside, but the interior is truly spectacular. In 1660, Louis XIV and María Teresa (the daughter of King Philip IV of Spain) were married in front of the baroque altarpiece, bringing peace to the two nations after years of fighting. And no, you're not imagining things: There's a ship hanging from the ceiling.
     
  • Walk along the coastal path called Sentier du Littoral, which connects the towns of Bidart to Hendaye. St. Jean is one of the gateways, and it's a great place to take in the gorgeous landscape (as well as getting to the beaches).
     
  • If you only have a short time to spend in town, take a stroll along the beach boardwalk. Flanked by the sea and historic buildings, the beautiful promenade is a perfect place to relax, watch people, and have a bite in any of the area restaurants.
     
  • If you want more about the young king, visit the Maison Louis XIV where he lived before marrying María Teresa. Originally built by a wealthy ship-owner in 1643, the house still belongs to his descendants who have made it available for tours, complete with period artefacts.

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