Bayonne has strong policies on heritage and culture and was officially recognised as a « Town of Art & History » in 2012. This award from the French governement comes in recognition of 2,000 years of history and rich heritage.
Bayonne takes you on a journey through the ages from the Gothic cathedral – a World Heritage Site since 1998 as part of the French Pilgrim Routes of Santiago de Compostela – to the old town restoration project, the ramparts, the cloister and the Château-Vieux. You can really travel back in time !
Bayonne is also historically the French capital of chocolate and famous the world over for its ham.
Here are the 5 tourist attractions not to be missed!
► Video of Bayonne here
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• TOP 5 VISITS TO DISCOVER BAYONNE •
• BAYONNE'S CATHEDRAL & CLOISTER •
St Mary's Cathedral is gothic in style and built using locally-sourced white and red stone on the site of a Romanesque cathedral which was destroyed by fire in 1258. Situated in the heart of the historic centre of Bayonne on a mound overlooking the Nive and Adour rivers, the cathedral contains relics of St Leo (St Léon in French), a 9th century Bishop of Bayonne and was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1998 as part of the French Pilgrim Routes of Santiago de Compostela. The adjoining cloister dates back to 1240.
Constructed in stages between the 13th and 16th centuries, it was not until a major operation led by Boeswillwald a pupil of Viollet-Le-Duc that the 85m high spires were completed in the 19th century giving the cathedral the elegant outline it retains today.
The chapels are decorated with 14th century style paintings by Steinhel and the stained glass windows are done in the style of Chartres Cathedral.
Mondays to Fridays 10 a.m to 12 a.m
and 1.45 p.m to 6.45 p.m
Saturdays and public holidays :10 a.m to 11.15 and from 1.45 p.m to 6.45 p.m,
Visits are not permitted during services
Place Mr Vansteenberghe
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• BASQUE MUSEUM BAYONNE •
The Basque and Bayonne History Museum is located in the Maison Dagourette, a late 16th century town house on the banks of the River Nive. Opened in 1924, the museum holds the biggest collection devoted to the Basque people, culture and customs.
The town house is listed as a historic monument and is evidence of the maritime activity once present in this area of the town. Such well preserved buildings are rare and of public interest both from an artistic and historical point of view.
The brochure issued for the official opening on 2nd February 1924 welcomed visitors with the Basque phrase "Hemen sartzen dena bere etxean da" meaning "You who enter here are home".
The museum still lives up to this welcoming motto aiming to be a place where ideas and views, knowledge and research, culture and lifestyles are exchanged.
Artefacts and works of art collected mainly during the early part of the 20th century illustrate the transition within Basque society through history to the present day. Together they tell the story of Bayonne as a major port and melting pot of French, Basque, Gascon and Jewish cultures...
From 01/10 to 31/03 open from 10.30a.m to 6p.m ex. monday & public holidays
From 01/04 to 30/09 open from 10a.m to 6p.m ex.on monday & public holidays.I
In July & August open everyday from 10a.m to 6.30p.m
Evening visits on thurdays, July & August until 8.30
Adults : 6,50€
Distabled persons & more than 26 year-old students : 4€
Free for less than 26 year-old
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• CHOCOLATE & BAYONNE •
Retrace the fabulous history of chocolate with l'Atelier de Chocolat, a Bayonne chocolate maker with shops all over France. From the tropical forests, where the cacao tree grows, to the windows on the production line where you can see the confectioners making the chocolatiers' specialities every morning. Informative displays and animated screens accompany visitors as they learn the secrets of each stage of the production process.
The collection of antique machinery helps you imagine how cocoa beans were transformed to make chocolate 100 years ago. Relive South American mythology surrounding the history of cocoa and how the Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition made Bayonne the chocolate capital of France! View an educative film about cocoa production today and discover how it is transformed into chocolate.
At the end of the tour, adults can taste different chocolates from around the world while budding young chefs can paint chocolate fish to take home with pride.
From Monday to Saturday 9.a.m to 12.30p.m and from 2p.m to 6.pm
July & August from 9.30 to 6p.m
adults : 5,80 €
children from 4 to 12 years old: 2.60 €
7 Allée de Gibeléou
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• BAYONNE & HAM •
Pierre Ibaialde's atelier is situated in the heart of the Petit Bayonne area, a stone's throw from the banks of the River Nive, the cathedral and the shopping district. A descendant of Basque farmers he is maintaining local family traditions of farmyard butchering and processing. Pierre and his small team, season cured meats and other delicacies to perfection.
The visit starts with a presentation of the ham making process and the traditional methods used, as well as recounting the more colourful parts of the story of ham in Bayonne. After the presentation you can visit the salting tub and ham drying-room where the attractive colours of the hams in salt and the mouth watering smells from the drying-room hint at the quality of the products. The tour ends with a tasting where you can sample the local flavours in a friendly atmosphere. For those of you tempted to buy, visit the adjoining shop.
Tours last about 40 minutes and are on every day except Saturday afternoon in off-peak season and all day Sunday.
Open from 9a.m to 12a.m &
from 2p.m to 6.pm
July & August : open from 10a.m to 1.30p.m and 2.30 p.m to 6.30p.m,
Closed on saturday & public holidays
January/February/March : closed on saturdays, sundays, mondays & public holidays
Acces for disabled persons
Bayonne ham producer Pierre Ibaialde
41, Rue des Cordeliers
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• BAYONNE'S COVERED TRADITIONAL LOCAL PRODUCTS MARKET •
Most French towns have a covered market called Les Halles. In Bayonne Les Halles form such an integral part of local life and are in such perfect harmony with the restoration of the old town that it is hard to imagine that it was inaugurated as recently as 1994.
The atmosphere here is lively and entertainment guaranteed! On Saturday mornings the crowds jostle for space in and around the market.
The Baionan Kantuz volunteer choir has been bringing music to the market for the past 11 years. On the 4th Saturday of each month, the singing begins at 11am with a rehearsal in Place Lacarre followed by a performance in Les Halles from 11.30am to 12.30pm.
Other markets in Bayonne:
Place de la République: Fridays from 7am to 1pm
Rue Sainte Catherine: Sundays from 8am to midday
Place du Marquisat boulevard Jean d'Amou: Fridays from 8am to 1pm
Place du Polo: Fridays from 7am to 1pm
Place des Gascons: Wednesdays from 7am to 1pm and Saturdays from 7am to 1pm
2, Quai du Commandant Roquebert
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