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Our 3 Day Stay in St Jean de Luz; What a Little Gem

Palmetto, Florida
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Our 3 Day Stay in St Jean de Luz; What a Little Gem

This is a write-up bit about our 3 days spent in this small seaside town, July 3-6, 2014. France was a prelude to our final destination, El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I've learned French in school and could not resist a stop here for a chance at language immersion. Tagging along were two teen boys, 13/14.

(Chances are you readers probably know more about the town than I do. This report is probably not "trip-advisory" worthy, but a tribute to a small town with a big heart.)

Le Bugue, France
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1. Re: Our 3 Day Stay in St Jean de Luz; What a Little Gem

LOVE St-Jean-de-Luz!

Palmetto, Florida
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2. Re: Our 3 Day Stay in St Jean de Luz; What a Little Gem

I did not know much about the town, only that it was in the part of France called French Basque, only few kilometers from the border with Spain. Once a fishing/whaling community, it was caught in many border battles, and as part of the peace and alliance making process, French King Louis XIV married Maria Teresa Princess of Spain in the town's cathedral, Church of St. John the Baptist, in 1660.

The train ride was about 5 hours direct from Paris. I bought iDTGV tickets 2-3 months in advance, paid 120 euros for 3. We booked an apartment that could have slept 6, so there was plenty of room for everyone. It was very comfortable and it was a nice change to take our meals at "home" after eating out everyday in Paris. The proprietor was incredibly nice and spoke excellent English. He watched over the bar downstairs, and there was a restaurant too. But the real treat for us was the pelota court next to the bar. The kids were welcomed to try their hands at this popular Basque game which looked a bit like jai alai, and they played a little every morning.

It was easy, relaxed living. Little Casino grocery store, boulangerie, public laundry, ATM were all but a short distance from apartment. The kids immediately took to the small town. I did not realize they felt a bit stressed in Paris, being on their guards constantly, overwhelmed with stimuli. First full day was cloudy, but it was nice just walking on the beach, climbing a bit on rocks, and checking out boardwalk stores and the old town buildings. The stores lined the streets leading toward the beach were all so tempting. Plenty of candy stores and other sweet treats, beachwear and other clothes. I saw some really nice Longchamps bags on sales, but I could only look as we were backpacking it. Anyway, what statement would a Camino pilgrim make trekking with a Longchamps? Not a good one.))

Next day it was all sun and sand. We lay out on the beach, buried each other in the sands, and just enjoyed going in and out the water. The boys bought a couple of boogie boards which they kept until San Sebastian. (Before we left the coast for Leon, Spain, they would eventually gave them away to two American guys from Chicago area.) I tried to keep an eye on them as they bobbed up and down out there, but occasionally slipped into a slumber. Somehow we made time to see the church and the house where King Louis XIV and his bride stayed. We walked to the port and the main square where there were music at night, people spilling out from restaurants those nights because of the World Cup. Kids stopped by a street vendor for dessert. What was the kids' favorite in Paris, crepes, was now replaced by freshly made churros coated with lots of sugar.

The day we left rain clouds came back. It wasn't a good day to take the Rhune train up the mountain, so I let the boys sleep in. I asked the owner how much it would be to go to San Sebastian and he said about 50 Euros. Okay with me for the convenience of not switching train or bus. About noon, he called a cab for us. And as we loaded into the car, the owner and a regular bar patron who has seen us around ran out to see us off. I asked them to confirm the fare with driver, and driver said 90 euros. <<Whistles>> Wow! that was everyone's reaction. Driver justified with it being a Sunday. But he knew I had allies watching out for me, lol. For a moment no one knew what to do, and I almost said, Hell with it, lets go. However, the cab driver beat me to it with an alternative; for 40 euros he would drive us to the train station, where we then could take the petit train to San Sebastian for a euro or two each. That was satisfactory to all. We waved byes to our friends.

Our memories of St Jean de Luz will be that beautiful sunny day on the beach, and the nice folks there: from the young lady and man who gave us direction to the apartment, to the girl in the dried fruit shop who was not put off when one of the boys knocked over and made a mess of her samples tray, to the friendly and helpful treatments we received while buying roasted chicken, cheese, and cassoulet on the main shopping drag. Most of all, the daily welcoming greetings from the hotel's proprietor made us feel good. He repeatedly told the boys they were welcome to come down and try their hands at Basque pelota.

Au revoir et Merci!


los altos...
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3. Re: Our 3 Day Stay in St Jean de Luz; What a Little Gem

We were able to spend only 1 night and a full day in St. Jean de Luz in June but felt exactly the same as you did. It is indeed a jewel.

Biarritz, France
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for Biarritz, San Sebastian - Donostia, Basque Country
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4. Re: Our 3 Day Stay in St Jean de Luz; What a Little Gem

Thanks for the review. Lived in Saint Jean de Luz myself one summer but learnt some new things from your trip report.

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5. Re: Our 3 Day Stay in St Jean de Luz; What a Little Gem

We are about to stay near St Jean de Luz and your beautiful review has made me even more excited about our impending trip. Thank you!

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6. Re: Our 3 Day Stay in St Jean de Luz; What a Little Gem

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7. Re: Our 3 Day Stay in St Jean de Luz; What a Little Gem

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