Cobbled streets wind through the Bayonne, which was founded as a medieval stronghold and is now one of the most beautiful cities in France. Set at the confluence of the Adour and Nive Rivers, the city is filled with half-timbered houses and centuries-old churches. Cafes, bistros and bars line the riverfront and give Bayonne a lively and upbeat feel.
Things to do in Bayonne
Also known as Grand Bayonne, the historic district is filled with stone townhouses decorated with colourful wooden shutters. Along Rue des Faures, former blacksmith workshops have been reimagined as independent galleries and artisan studios.
Bayonne Cathedral towers over the neighbourhood and features a dramatic Gothic façade. Light streams into the cathedral through beautiful stained-glass windows. Some of the oldest panes date back to the 1100s. A series of 17th-century ramparts encircle the city, many blanketed in grass and surrounded by leafy trees and parks.
Cross the river to explore the lively Petit Bayonne district. It’s home to attractions like Musée Basque, where you’ll find exhibits on local history, culture, art and archaeological finds. Stop for coffee and cake at one of the charming patisseries.
Bayonne’s atmospheric bistros and restaurants serve authentic cuisine from the Basque region. Try local dishes like “bacalao” salted cod stew, tuna casserole cooked in white wine and Bayonne ham seasoned with local herbs. Dine at an upscale riverside restaurant or keep things casual in a tree-shaded courtyard. For dessert, enjoy a slice of creamy Basque cheesecake. Bustling Les Halles market is packed with stalls selling local produce.
Getting around Bayonne
Bayonne is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot. The city is a 15-minute drive from Biarritz, two hours from Bordeaux and three hours from Toulouse. Bilbao is a two-hour drive across the border in Spain. Bordeaux Airport is a two-hour drive away, while trains run between Paris and Bayonne in around five hours.