In the town’s principal church, the 13th-century Eglise St-Jean-Baptiste, at the corner of rue Gambetta and rue Garat (tel. 05-59-26-08-81), Louis XIV and the Spanish Infanta, Marie-Thérèse, were married in 1660. The interior is stunning: Look out for the altar with its statue-studded gilded retable (altarpiece). The interior is open to visitors Monday to Saturday 9am to noon and 2 to 6pm, and Sunday 3 to 6:30pm.
Two houses are associated with the couple. La Maison Louis XIV, place Louis XIV (www.maison-louis-xiv.fr; tel. 05-59-26-27-58), was the scene of the royal wedding night. Built of chiseled gray stone between 1644 and 1648 beside the port, it is richly furnished with antiques and mementos. It’s open daily for guided tours in July and August at 10:30am and 12:30, 2:30, and 6:30pm; and from April to June and September to October at 11, 3, and 4pm. Entrance is 6.50€. La Maison de l’Infante, 1 rue de l’Infante (tel. 05-59-26-36-82), is where the Infanta lived at the time of her marriage. It was designed and built by wealthy weapons merchant Johannot de Haraneder. Its pink façade, made from bricks and local stones, evokes an Italian palazzo. Inside is a “grand” reception room with a 17th-century fireplace and ceiling beams richly adorned and painted. It is open June to October 15, and October 25 to November 11, Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 6:30pm, and Sunday and Monday from 2:30 to 6:30pm. Entrance is 2.50€.
Exploring Basque Villages
The entire Basque region is dotted with atmospheric, beautifully-preserved villages. From Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the most easily reached is Guéthary, 3km (1.9 miles) away either on the main N10 road to Biarritz, or along the pretty coastal backroads. A traditional fishing village which has become something of a gourmet center and artistic refuge, the old town is laid out around the lovely church and fishing port, and a walk takes you along the headland, past some dramatic coves. Heading the other way from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, along the D932 up into the hills of the Pyrénées, both Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Espelette are unmissable. They epitomize the traditional Basque village—classic half-timbered houses in red, white, and green, shops offering local cheeses and hams, Irouléguy wines, and other specialties, all with the mountains rising dramatically behind. Espelette is known for its tiny red peppers, often seen strung outside the houses around the main square like cheerful garlands, while Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port has a 17th century citadel along banks of the pretty river Nive.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.