Bayonne, France

Bayonne hosts the wonderful week-long street party, Les Fete de Bayonne, once a year. It spends the rest of the year sleepy because it is recovering.

Population: 44,498

Language: French, Basque

Nationalities: French, Spanish, rugby fans

Surf report: Bayonne is 8km inland from the Basque coast, but there are waves of sangria, tea and French wine. Head to the coast and you’re surrounded by world renowned surf spots including Hossegor, Moliets, Hendaye, and San Sebastian and Zarautz just over the Spanish border

Cookie-cutter must sees: feeling serious? Here’s the serious sights:

Cathedrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne – An impressive old Gothic cathedral with soaring ceilings and stained glass everywhere. In case you feel you haven’t seen enough churches yet.

Musée Basque – What even is this “Basque” you keep hearing about? A dance? A musical genre? A language? Educate yourself at the Basque Museum. You’ll learn about an incredibly unique and quirky culture.

L’Atelier du Chocolat – If you missed the chocolate museum in Biarritz, here you can watch chocolate being made and purchase some of the brown magic. Yum!

Rue de Faures – Once the street where a powerful blacksmiths’ guild forged stabby bayonets and others weapons of war, this street has reinvented itself as an artisan quarter perfect for strolling.

The alternative cool shit: feeling avant-garde? Here’s the Stoke choices:

Les Fetes de Bayonne – 5 days and nights of non-stop partying at France’s biggest festival. There’s sangria, parades, Basque sports competitions and dancing, concerts and fireworks. Inspired by the Running of the Bulls, you can even get buck wild with one of the horny beasts.

Les Halles – Browse Basque Country goodies at Bayonne’s covered market. Once it winds down, there are several bars where you can sample pintxos (Basque tapas) and oysters from the region.

La Luna Negra Music – Fancy some late night comedy, salsa or jazz? You’ll find this gem of a cabaret venue down an alleyway in the old town.

Chai Ramina – The place to be when the local rugby club has a big game – the crowds of locals spill onto the street, as does the atmosphere. Even on a quiet day, it’s a good spot to sit and eat your spicy sausage after a visit to the market.

Under no circumstances does Stoke recommend… ;)

Going to Ttipia Cidreria for the all-you-can drink cider straight from the barrel. Fountains of beautiful golden Basque cider flowing in endless streams straight into your mouth – what an awful idea!

Staying on a barge you so can partake in some late night skinny dips. Floating in the ocean with fishies tenderly nibbling at your bits. When in France…

No seriously, Stoke does not recommend:
Getting up early. The locals don’t eat until late in the day, so you’ll struggle to find a snack.
Going to Les Fetes de Bayonne without your uniform of all whites with a red scarf and sash. There are some moments in life when conformity is a positive thing. Getting dressed up like the French and imbibing ridiculous amounts of sangria is one of those times.

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There’s nothing finer in this travelling life than being somewhere on the biggest day of their year. Accidentally stumbling across a little Spanish town on the day their having their main fiesta, or finding yourself lost in the UK when the local football team wins whatever championship. Days where you’ll find everybody partying, from the […]