Things to See and Do in Saint Jean de Luz, France

harbor, saint jean de luz, south west france, nouvelle aquitaine
Visit the harbor in Saint Jean de Luz. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Are you visiting Saint-Jean-de Luz for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in the City of Corsairs.

When I have a visitor from out of town, the first place they want to see is the church of St John the Baptist where the Sun King, Louis XIV of France married the Infanta of Spain Marie Thérèse of Austria in 1660, but I also take them to the harbor for a more local, authentic experience.

ciboure, saint jean de luz, barque coast, atlantic ocean, nouvelle aquitaine, france
When you want to escape, head to the Atlantic Ocean. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

When I want to escape the crowds/tourists, my favorite place to visit is Socoa and its fort and the coast path. If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Sainte Barbe Hill for kissing with a view.

The best place to walk the dog is along the Nivelle River.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit La Rhune rack railway train nearby Sare, one of the most beautiful villages in France.

basque cake, patisserie etchebaster, saint jean de luz, south west france, nouvelle aquitaine, basque food
Basque cake at Patisserie Etchebaster. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Basque Food from Nouvelle Aquitaine:

The French know how to eat and their Basque food is exceptional. On my recent visit to Saint-Jean-de-Luz I discovered the best macarons from La Maison ADAM and the most wonderful sweet called Kanougas from Paries. You simply must try them all!

If you are looking for typical Basque cuisine, I recommend Xaya restaurant and Le Petit Grill Basque in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France. In nearby Ciboure I recommend Arrantzaleak and Chez Mattin. The best place to go for coffee or tea & a pastry is Patisserie Etchebaster, one of the bars in the main place Louis XIV, or The Grand Hotel Terrace.

Looking for cheap food in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, go to Xaya Restaurant or O’Pintxo. Le Suisse (place Louis XIV) is the spot for late night dining.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Kaiku (one star restaurant in Michelin guide) Briketenia in Guethary (one star restaurant in Michelin guide), or l’ Océan in the Grand Hotel restaurant (one star in Michelin guide.)

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basque linen, saint jean de luz, basque coast, france
South west France is known for Basque linen. Photo © Nancy D. Brown


Seeing a lot of brightly colored Basque linen? Saint-Jean-de-Luz is known for espadrilles, in addition to the wedding place of Louis XIV, as well as the fishing port.

When you come to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, get your picture taken over the bay nearby the wooden footbridge houses. The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Sainte Barbe Hill or from the dikes at the entrance of the harbor.

Saint-Jean-de-Luz offers great views and Saint-Jean-de-Luz is the best place to watch or experience Tuna party or “Donibaneko Bestak” (Party of the town).

In Saint-Jean-de-Luz there is more than the Atlantic Ocean. Outdoor lovers will want to hike or go horseback riding in the mountains, bike or walk along the 26 km coastal path or golf on one of two golf courses, as well as discover pelota game.

grand hotel thalasso and spa, saint jean de luz, south west france, nouvelle aquitaine
Thalassotherapy at Grand Hotel Thalasso and Spa. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

After a day of adventure, the Grand Hotel Thalasso and Thalazur Thalassotherapy are the best places to go for a spa treatment.

If you are a museum lover, the town’s best museum is the House of Louis XIV. They offer Art and History guided tours.

Looking for exciting night life? Saint Jean de Luz has some great pubs.

The Sud Ouest Newspaper will keep you posted on what’s happening in Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

church, saint jean de luz, south west france, nouvelle aquitaine
The church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

You can tell a lot about Saint-Jean-de-Luz from visiting Louis XIV house, the Infanta house, the church and the harbor.

In the spring you should attend at the Festival Andalou, Saint-Jean-de-Luz festivities. In the summer you should attend local festivities: Toro de fuego, International Cesta punta game or a basque strength competition.

Did you know that Saint-Jean-de-Luz is known for Louis XIV wedding in 1660?

Come to Saint-Jean-de-Luz for Thalassotherapy, golf and visiting the French and Spanish basque country in the winter.

Emmanuel Poirmeur, Egiategia wines, saint jean de luz, basque coast, nouvelle aquitaine, south west france
Emmanuel Poirmeur Egiategia wines. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tips: I’ll bet you didn’t know that Saint Jean de Luz has a business owner, Emmanuel Poirmeur, whose is making Egiategia wines that are partly vinified under water in the bay of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Another little known fact, Napoleon III’s wife was on a boat that sank in 1867 in the bay of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Fortunately, she was rescued. For additional insider tips follow Nancy D. Brown on Instagram and Twitter @Nancydbrown and @terreetcotebasques for all things related to a holiday in Terre & Cotes Basques.

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Just outside of Saint-Jean-de-Luz you can visit two of the most beautiful villages in France, Sare and Ainhoa, and have lunch at Arraya restaurant in Sare and Oppoca and Ithurria restaurants in Ainhoa.

Article, photography and YouTube video by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Nouvelle Aquitaine, however all opinions are my own.