French Basque Coast: Ciboure and St. Jean de Luz


Map of French Basque Country

Leaving Zarautz on the Spanish Basque coast we continued on our road trip driving toward France.  As we approached the border I pulled out my passport but we crossed over without needing to stop.  This somewhat surprised me since the Belgian airport had experienced a terrorist attack just two days earlier.  Even though crossing borders in Europe is often like driving through states in the US we had brought our passports just in case security had tightened.

We arrived in the small coastal town of Ciboure after dark.  Our Airbnb host, an older woman with a young grandchild in each hand, called to us from the street corner when she saw us dragging our suitcases.  Our flat was on the third floor of a small apartment building with an elevator large enough for two people but all six of us managed to squeeze in along with our luggage.  No wifi or TV.


L’Ephémère bistro cafe in Ciboure, France

As we didn’t have a clue where to go for dinner our host recommended a perfect bistro that was just a half a block from our place, L’Ephémère.  The atmosphere was quiet and formal in comparison to places we had been to in Spain but the waiter was friendly and helpful considering none of us spoke French.


Evening meal at L’Ephémère

The ala carte dishes we ordered were fresh, tasty and nicely presented.  I would definitely recommend it.


View of Ciboure from our apartment

The next morning we would discover that we had a gorgeous view of the town; roof tops and green hills dotted with deer.

And of the Farmer’s market on the street below where we would interact with the vendors and sample local sheep and goat cheese, sausages and olives.

#1 IMG_3436FullSizeRender

Typical architecture in Ciboure

Fort de Socoa

Fort de Socoa

One of the more interesting sights adjacent to Ciboure is Fort de Socoa, a 15th-century fortress built by Louis XIII.


View of the bay of Saint Jean de Luz from the walkway next to the Fort de Socoa

It was about a ten minute walk from the parking area to the Fort, a lovely stroll with gorgeous views of the bay.


Fort de Socoa


View of the break water from Fort de Socoa.


The harbor at Ciboure

The larger and more well-known town of St. Jean de Luz is adjacent to Ciboure and accessible by a short walk over the bridge that connects the two places.


View from the St. Jean de Luz promenade.

We walked passed the harbor through the quaint streets of St. Jean de Luz that led to the beach which was sunny and bright on the day we visited.  Cafes and shops were plentiful on the promenade where we stopped for a casual lunch overlooking the sea.  The friendly server at the cafe helped us order sandwiches in Spanish since our French, and her English, was limited.  Most people working in the shops and restaurants did not speak English and fewer people spoke Basque than I expected.

In general, the French Basque area seemed more French to me than Basque in comparison to Spain where the Basque language and culture were more predominant from my perspective.


St. Jean de Luz

After enjoying the sea view we walked back through the old town of St. Jean de Luz,



bought a few postcards,

#2IMG_3448 Crepe in St. Jean de Luzbrowsed a spice shop and a couple of bakeries and I couldn’t visit France without tasting at least one crepe.  St. Jean de Luz was a quaint a pretty place.

Later in the evening, after we enjoyed a lovely Italian dinner, it began to rain hard as we left the restaurant.  We walked a good 10 minutes in a heavy downpour back to our apartment in Ciboure.  As we passed over the bridge strong gusts of wind nearly knocked me down.  When we reached our apartment it was totally dark as electricity must have blown out with the storm.  Luckily the flash light on my phone allowed us to navigate 3 flights of stairs, down a long hallway and into our flat, otherwise I have no idea how we would have found our way.  Once inside we found candles but no matches so there was nothing else to do but go to bed.  In the morning the electricity was working again and the storm had blown through.  We survived.

Next Post: Pays Basque: Bayonne, France





One thought on “French Basque Coast: Ciboure and St. Jean de Luz

  1. Pingback: Stopping by Biarritz | Jump Write In

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