May 20 - St. Jean de Luz
met for our morning lecture at a houseboat near the hotel. It is
used as a restaurant and has a room below the restaurant. There
we met our guide in Bayonne ( and environs), Andy Fisher. He is
a New Zealander, married to a Basque woman, and seems to have converted
to their cause. An excellent guide and a nice relief from French-accented
English. His first lecture was "the History and Culture of
the Basque Country until the French Revolution." The Basque
country includes not only the most southerly Department in southwest
France (Pyrenees-Atlantique) but even larger areas across the mountains
lunch in the hotel restaurant we went by bus to St. Jean de Luz.
On the way we stopped to see Ortillopitz: La Maison Basque de Sare.
This is an impressive 17th C Basque home, illustrating typical building
practices. Built in 1660 for a relatively well-off Basque farmer.
This was interesting although the description of its features by
the local guide was a little long.
that we went on to St. Jean de Luz, once a small Basque fishing
town and now also a popular resort. It's a beautiful place, has
an impressive church, and is famed as the wedding place of Louis
XIV and the Infanta Maria-Therese of Spain in 1660. Not just a fishing
village, St. Jean de Luz was a site of both local and transatlantic
whaling and of the sardine and cod fisheries. In the 18th C it was
the site of piracy and privateering.
it achieved a deal of wealth and this is seen in it's church, St.
Jean Baptiste. Although plain on the exterior the interior is lavishly
decorated. Begun in the 15th C it was not completed until the 17th.
visiting the church we did a little shopping and then strolled down
to the beach to see that. Then back to the hotel. We were on our
own for dinner but did not go out until fairly late for us, only
to find the town was closing down for a holiday. We had a Spartan
dinner at the cafe next to the hotel. It was filling.
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