From our home base in Ciboure on the French Basque coast, we set out in the morning to nearby Bayonne, the capitol of French Basque (Pays Basque). Koldo drove inland along the French highway with the Spanish speaking GPS guiding him to our destination. None of us had been to Bayonne so it would be a new adventure for us all. In about 30 minutes we turned off the highway toward the entrance to Bayonne.
It was late Saturday morning when we arrived and the City was already buzzing as we soon would discover that we found ourselves in the midst of the annual Jambon Festival.
Once parked we followed the crowd to the Cathedral of Saint-Marie which is at the entrance to the Medieval Old Town. The Cathedral is huge and impressive.
It’s twin Gothic spires tower above the City.
Inside the Cathedral was beautiful as expected.
Behind the Cathedral begins the narrow streets of the Old Town.
The streets of the Old Town led us to the Nive river where the annual Ham Festival (Foie au Jambon) was in full swing. Farmers bring their cured ham to be judged at the festival which is held for several days over Easter weekend.
We milled around with the crowd enjoying the variety of musical performances and the gorgeous weather, as it was an amazingly beautiful day.
On the opposite side of the Nive river a dozen outdoor cafes lined the promenade adjacent to the water. Fortunately we were seated at a table which we would eventually share with a French family. The place was packed for the festival so that the service was super slow, but we happily sat next to the river for a couple of hours enjoying our beer, jambon embellished meals, the sunshine and being in Basque France.
After lunch we briefly explored the Petit Bayonne District where the festival was also being celebrated. There was a Basque Museum which I would definitely visit if I were ever to return to Bayonne.
Next we walked across the Point Saint-Esprit bridge to explore the less crowded side of Bayonne. The view of the Adour River was beautiful from our perspective on the bridge.
We enjoyed the view of the Gare de Bayonne train station while sipping cafe au lait at the cafe across the way. During our respite we decided that after leaving Bayonne we would stop by Biarritz on our way back to Ciboure.