The architectural gem of this, the royal city, is the church of St. John the Baptist, where you are invited to walk the same path as that of Louis XIV, the sun king, in his youth. Indeed it was in this very place that his marriage to Marie Thérèse was celebrated. Inside, you'll be able to admire the enormous altarpiece made of gilded wood, one of the finest of its kind in the Basque region, which is home to no fewer than eighteen statues of saints.
The pirates of the 17th century, followed by the whaling based here during the 18th century, both contributed towards the renown of the harbour of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Nowadays, it is the flotilla of twenty or so boats which are the pride and joy of the harbour, one of France's loveliest. You'll be able to buy straight from the fishmongers in the district of Les Halles: hake, tuna and anchovies caught that day are all available.
Enjoy the picture postcard décor with its Basque-style timber-framed and painted houses, with their colourful balconies. This long, pedestrianised street links Les Halles to the harbour of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Local shops abound here, with delicatessens and little shops selling Basque fabrics, espadrilles, leather goods and plenty more besides. You'll also find the best of the town's bakers here - Adam, Pariès et Etchebaster - so you'll be able to stock up on your macaroons, mouchous (biscuits), kanougas (caramels), chocolates and tourons (nougat).
Right in the heart of town lies the Grande Plage, the biggest and best beach of this seaside resort. Fringed by the Promenade Jacques Thibaud, this affords a lovely view over Ciboure and Socoa. You'll also be able to lie back on the beach of Lafitenia or Senix (popular among experienced surfers), the beach of Mayarco (on the edge of the little seaside resort of Guéthary) or you could head for the sand and pebble beach of Erromardie.
The Colline Sainte-Barbe in Saint-Jean-de-Luz is positioned at the tip of the bay, level with the dikes, and is a truly exceptional location for walks with the whole family. There is a small chapel right at the top of the hill, where there's also a viewpoint indicator. There are playgrounds for the kids here too. Take in the amazing views over the town, with the Pyrenees forming the background, and over the entire Basque coastline. Just the place from which to enjoy the sunset!
Route: Labenne- Saint-Jean-de-Luz 31 mins – 37 km via the A63