Located at the mouth of the river Nivelle, Saint-Jean-de-Luz is one of the most visited place in the French Basque Country with it hugging one side of a sheltered bay. Throughout its history its beauty has attracted Kings and nobles with the highlight being the marriage of Louis XIV of France to Maria-Theresa in 1660.
Saint-Jean has been documented since the 11th century with its sailors hunting Whales off the coast of Labrador in Newfoundland. By the 15 century they had taken control of the cod fisheries which had sprung up off the Canadian coast. The loss of the colonies saw them turn their attention back to Europe first through piracy then later fishing for sardines, off the coast of Portugal and Morocco, and tuna off the coast of Senegal and Mauritania.
On June 09 1660, Louis XIV of France married Maria-Theresa of Spain in the town with the hose he stayed in during his time there now known as the Maison Louis XIV (Louis XIV House), whilst the future Queen stayed in the Maison de l’infante (House of the Princess).
For a short period of time, Saint-Jean-de-Luz was the unofficial capital of France, court and government moved here with the days and nights spent in feasting and revelry.
Eglise St-Jean Baptisite
The wonderful 15th century church began renovations in 1649 in preparation for the wedding of the King, but had still not been finished when the wedding took place some 11 years later. Today it is by far the finest church in the French Basque Country with a wonderful 17th century gilded altarpiece and an incredible painted wooden ceiling which represents and upturned ship’s hull .
Maison Louis XIV
Built in 1643 by a wealthy ship owner, Lohobiague, the house has since been known as the House of Louis XIV. Louis spent the last days of his bachelorhood here before his marriage to the daughter of Phillip IV of Spain, a marriage which marked the end of 24 years of warfare between the two countries. The house is still set up with the period furniture and design of the time when Louis occupied the residence.
Maison de l’Infante
Another ship owners mansion originally called Maison Joaneonia, after its owners, the now Maison de’Infante was where Maria-Theresa of Spain spent her final days before her marriage to the King of France.
A guided visit to the Saint-Jean-de-Luz, as well as a visit to the Biarritz, is available on;