Vieux Bayonne, the old town, is inside the ramparts, on the left bank of the Nive. The early-13th-century Cathédrale Ste-Marie (www.cathedrale-de-bayonne.fr; tel. 05-59-59-17-82) dominates this part of town on rue d’Espagne and rue des Gouverneurs. The spiny 19th-century steeples are the best-known landmarks in Bayonne. The cathedral is worth 30 min. of your time and is a good retreat on a hot day. It was begun in 1258 when Bayonne was under English rule; it fell to the French in 1451. Don’t miss the gorgeous 14th-century cloisters. They’re like a secret garden from the Middle Ages. The cathedral is open Monday through Sunday 8am to 12:30pm and 5pm to 6.30pm (Sunday until 8pm); admission is free.

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