Thursday, April 8, 2010

Get Charmed by Bayonne, the Chocolate Capital

View of Bayonne and its cathedral

The charm of Bayonne is hard to resist and it is my favourite shopping place. You combine the rationals of shopping with the pleasures of winding streets, cafés and a beautiful setting by the Nive River. Maybe you know that Bayonne is famous for its ham? A little less known is that Bayonne also is the Capital of Chocolate in France. About one shop out of two has a shop window full of chocolate...

Bayonne chocolate

The Chocolate history of Bayonne started in 1496 when the Portuguese king threw out the Jews, who knew how to make chocolate. Several skilled Jewish chocolate makers found refuge in the Saint Esprit block in Bayonne and started chocolate shops. Today there is even a special Chocolate Festival every Ascension, with chocolate stands everywhere and free tastings...

Giant ham at the Bayonne Ham Festival

This time we walked into the Ham Festival! I was there with two friends, heading for some coffee and laughs, maybe a spring shopping bargain or two, and there we are with the  market place square completely full of stands with ham and sausages!

Sausages in Bayonne

A sausage snapshot. One for every taste ... perfumed with wild boar, donkey, goat cheese, plum, garlic...

Café at the Food Market square in Bayonne
City life on the market place square (les Halles)

The Cathedral in Bayonne
The Cathedral

Café on the Cathedral square
The square in front of the Cathedral

Old house front
Old house front

Typical narrow street in Bayonne
Winding street with typical basque fronts and a glimpse of the Cathedral

Fronts by the Nive River
Typical fronts of the houses next to the river.

Café at the theatre
This café has a very nice terrace by the Nive River, on the Place de la Liberté. The building is the theatre and has a more classic style.


Arcades in Bayonne
The arcades, not a very good picture, but I think they add to the charm of Bayonne. Pretty practical too if it rains!

Bus in Bayonne
The Navette takes you all around Bayonne for free! Smaller than a normal bus, to be able to get into those narrow streets.

Spring trees in Bayonne
A last picture in front of the Galeries Lafayette, where you see how the trees are covered in tiny light green leaves... bye Bayonne, see you again soon!

Maybe you can feel it from the pictures, that one of the special things about the Basque coast is that each place has its own soul. Biarritz is close to Bayonne, but very different. Anglet is also something else... and so on.


  1. hi, thanks so much for doing this blog, I have to do a assignment on Bayonne and youi have lots of information, but it is also very interesting- why do they do that Mighty festival, is it to celebrate something?

  2. In the Southwest almost all the villages and cities have a yearly festival, so it is just a local tradition... very nice!!!


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