St. Jean de Luz and Biarritz, France

Today, it not being fine enough to enjoy the lovely beaches of San Sebastien, I took an excursion to two cities in France just some 45 minutes drive away. Like San Sebastien, they are both summer resort and spa cities and have been since the late 19th century.  Biarritz is the larger, and the former summer palace of Napoleon III sits along the beach (photos.) The sea is rough here and we saw many people dressed in wetsuits walking barefoot through the city with their surf boards to the beach.  Dozens were enjoying the waves in the cold water (photo).  We then went on to St. Jean de Luz which is half way between Biarritz and San Sebastien.  This town has a few old buildings including a church in which Louis IV, the Sun King, married the Spanish princess Maria Theresa in May 1660.  I have photos of the church, which has been extended since, and the two houses in which they lived prior to their marriage, arranged as part of the Treaty of the Pyrenees which ended a long war between France and Spain.  This area of France, like its neighbouring part of Spain is also Basque and the Basque language is to be seen on many street signs. Many shops in St. Jean de Luz also have Basque artisanal products of various kinds including brightly woven cloth which has been made into kitchen wares. The port has a working fishing fleet (photo) but tourism appears to be the main industry as the beach is protected and good for swimming (photo). The harbour is also protected by an old fort(photo) which was used by corsairs (pirates) who were under the protection of the king. Tomorrow we head for Barcelona where this tour will end.

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