Last days in France

Bayonne by the river

After Toulouse, I decided I needed a couple more days in France to practice my French, before going back to Spain and meeting Evan. So I chose Bayonne, which is about as close to Spain as you can get without actually crossing the border (which is about 30km away). Bayonne is also on the northern edge of the french Basque country which I’ve always been fascinated by.

I arrived Saturday afternoon, but in a failure of pacing, managed to see both the major sights in the next few hours. In my own defense, it was also raining, and they are both indoors.

Bayonne Cathedral

The cathedral is World Heritage listed (another reason for me to come), mainly because it is an important stop on the Camino de Santiago, and the Basque museum is a very well put together museum of local traditions and a general history of the Basque country in France (which is much less explosive than the Spanish basque country, but even today about 25% of the locals speak Basque).

Bayonne itself is a lovely old town, on the junction of two rivers. It is incredibly built up, as the high ground is not very extensive, so the castle and cathedral and all the local residents are crammed into not much space, even compared with your average European old town. The half timbered buidings seem a bit ramshackle (my hotel is one, and the floors don’t seem completely flat) but they are clearly well loved and looked after.

Three ways to get to Santiago de Compostela

So today, which was a beautiful day, I decided against more wandering around the town, and instead to do a final bit of Camino training. I found the Camino route out of Bayonne (or to be precise, one of the three options), and walked as far as I could. Luckily for me, it was next to a river, and completely flat, so I had a very enjoyable few hours walking south and then back north, stopping in both directions at the lovely riverside bar/restaurant I had marked out as an important landmark.

Riverside Cafe

I did feel it was a slight betrayal to walk on the Camino without Evan, but I felt walking back in the same direction negated the Camino-ness of it, and just made it a lovely walk beside a river.

1 thought on “Last days in France

  1. I had looked at Bayonne as a way to get to SJPP (officially the start of the camino Frances). In the end my camino started at Roncevalles. Highly recommend the pilgrim mass at 8pm. 8th chapel is beautifully lit n quite tranquil.

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