St. Jean de Luz is on the Côte Basque and borders Spain. As it is quite a small town you can walk everywhere. The location is enviable as it is set in a horse-shoe bay with a beautiful sandy beach and a backdrop of the western Pyrénées. This mix of ocean and mountain landscapes helps to keep St. Jean de Luz surprisingly mild, even in winter.
St Jean de Luz suits everyone from families to couples to singletons. Whilst the sandy beaches are excellent for families, this is not a “bucket and spade” resort, it’s for those who want to experience active and varied days and relax in the evening enjoying a meal in one of the many brassieres and bistro’s in the town’s enchanting back streets. Gastronomy is a way of life here and it is also the birthplace of macaroon cakes.
There are many brassieres and bistro’s to choose from all offering excellent choices from their local Basque food and of course fresh fish and seafood that this coastline is famous for. The atmosphere in these brassieres is wonderful with local people and holidaymakers genuinely enjoying where they are. That is the atmosphere of this vibrant town. If you are renting a villa you can shop in the covered market in Rue Victor Hugo where you will find fresh fish, cheeses and local produce.
Shopping is good in St Jean de Luz with smart shops that line the main street to the pedestrian walkway that is accessed from the main street. It is full of shops selling handmade espadrilles, leather goods, fine Basque linens and much more.
St. Jean de Luz has a pristine beach along the bay and as it is shaped like a horseshoe, no matter where you are you have a wonderful view of the entire bay. Since it is a beachside town, it is not hard to imagine that many of the popular activities centre on the sea. The Espace Voile International in town offers windsurfing and yachting lessons and rents out motorboats and sea kayaks for those interested in hitting the high seas on their own. There is also a small but active fishing port here, where you can watch fisherman pull in large catches of sardines, anchovies and tuna.
If you want to unwind and feel not only refreshed but have a wonderful feeling of “well being” then try Thalassotherapy. It’s a treatment with salt water, seaweed and algae and works for anything from migraines to rheumatism to sprained ankles. You plunge into salt water pools with jets that massage you underwater. At the end of the day you will feel tired but also feel remarkably well.
One place every visitor should experience is the Grand Hotel whether it’s for a morning coffee or and pre-dinner drink. It’s not cheap but worth it! The Grand Hotel is a belle époque, cream wedding cake of a building on the edge of the white sandy beach. There is a wide terrace with white wicker furniture and umbrellas where you can watch the world go by or relax inside in the bar/lounge area with large comfortable armchairs enjoying the sumptuous surroundings.
If you want to venture out of the town you can head out for the mountains passing through the Basque villages with their timbered houses painted in the Basque colours of red, green or blue.