Skip to main content

The Basque Country: A Day in Bayonne, France

By Lu Sobredo

Readers may have noticed that Lu Travels Abroad Blog has been overwhelmingly about Spain. So far. This is not surprising to family and close friends. After all, Spain is where we visit often. Spain is what we consider our other home country. Even though Spain was not even on my family’s radar when we began vacationing in Europe, a confluence of circumstances took my husband James to Spain for the first time 12 years ago. He then took the whole family about 9 years ago. And we never looked back, only forward to frequent visits. Being there feels like being home.

You know what makes Spain an ideal site for exploring Europe? Other than the opportunity to spend time with our Spanish friends who are now part of our extended family, or delight in the food and be mesmerized by the landscape? Its proximity to other European countries.

Our time in the Basque Country early 2018 made us realize how convenient it was to also explore nearby places we’ve read about in tour books. Rick Steves, a travel aficionado & a fixture in the travel world speaks of the Basque Country. It is an area that straddles between Spain and France. 

So with Donastia-San Sebastián in Spain as our home base, my husband and I crossed the border and spent a day in Bayonne, France. Only an hour bus ride to this medieval town, we didn’t mind waking up at an ungodly hour to catch an early bus in cold temperature. We welcomed hopping from one cafe to the next in a picturesque locale in winter, absent the tourists that crowd the town in the summer.

Rick Steves' travel website, At-a-Glance section describes Bayonne (Bayona in Spanish) in this way: “Urban French scene with a Basque twist, home to impressive cultural museum, scenic ramparts, and lots of ham.”  (Rick Steves’ Europe, Web February 24, 2018). 

Rampart—mound of earth that shoots from the ground is explained in the tourism brochure of 2017, Bayonne was “founded as a Roman fortified town at the junction of the Nive and Adour Rivers. Bayonne later prospered during the Middle Ages under the Pantageet kings of England. Thanks to trade, the town enjoyed a golden age with the building of the cathedral, cloister and castles.”

Our day in Bayonne was centered around the Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame de saint Marie and the remarkable wrought iron railings by the River Nive. We strolled along what the tourism brochure called the Quay sides of the Nive—“the narrow, stone and half timbered facades, cafes, restaurants and market hall.” These are some of the points of interest in Bayonne that my husband James Sobredo and I captured with our cameras. It is a charming town, rich in history and worthy of including in your itinerary when in Europe.

So next time when visiting Europe, consider a stopover in the Basque Country. Get a glimpse of Bayonne, France while you're at it. If wanting the quiet stroll in winter or participating in the festive liveliness of summer, take your pick.  Bayonne won't disappoint.

©Lu Sobredo


  1. Nice article - but try and find time to explore the inland villages* - especially in summer when the coast is steaming with people and parking in the same time zone becomes difficult!
    * villages like Ascain, Biriatou, La Bastide-Clairence and Sare for starters. Then there's Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry - a sweet spot to explore.


Post a Comment

Thank you for reading my blog post and leaving a comment. Have a good day!

Popular posts from this blog

Travel and Why Not?

By Lu Sobredo WELCOME to LuTravelsAbroad Website! What's new with me? TODAY I am exploring possible format/design for my LuTravelsAbroad website, for my Blog and Facebook page. Tickled to be launching a new venture. I have this incredible feeling of drive from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. A similar feeling that came over me when I finally realized I will travel abroad again. Travel while disabled, you might ask? Why not? Mother & Son: Midnight in Paris, ©James Sobredo 2004 WHY A TRAVEL BLOG The Travel Blog and Facebook web presence is meant to be a self-help travel corner, and a vehicle for opening up about my personal health journey. When preparing for the 2016 travel, some websites and travel blogs were a great help. While in Spain as I focused on the moment and less and less on what discomfort to anticipate, I gradually experienced the thrill of traveling. It was then that I began to envision creating a one-stop self-help corner for peopl

Through His Camera Lens: Lights, Landscapes and Life Abroad

by Lu Sobredo ~Celebrating the many dimensions of my husband James Sobredo: his interest, talent and heart as reflected through his camera lens. Introduction Yes, my son and I, and sometimes our friends take very good pictures with our mobile phones. But the person, whose camera lens I totally rely on to document life's moments and special places, is my husband James Sobredo. Being around him and his photography partner and close friend, Steven Montalvo when on their photography shoots, is both meditative and exhilarating to watch. As if their eyes are connected to their hearts. And after many hours and enormous patience, they might be happy with the outcome. I know I am. Folks have asked me why I find blogging so much fun? Other than the fact that: My family actually have visited the amazing places I write about. I get to meet fascinating people and who have become part of my family’s life.  As strange as this sounds, it’s even fun to awkwardly attempt speaking a d

Finding Philippine Art at the Asian Art Museum

by Lu Sobredo Viewing Philippine Art at the Asian Art Museum. ©Lu Sobredo 2017 "Celebrate the rich diversity of Philippine art with 25 compelling works recently added to the Asian Art Museum’s collection. Expressive indigenous carving, jewelry and textiles; Christian devotional statues from the Spanish colonial period; postwar genre and landscape paintings; and contemporary works come together in this intimate exhibition to tell fascinating and complex stories of the Philippines.” ~ Asian Art Museum Introduction I’m surprised to be hanging out on a Thursday afternoon at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco in the middle of summer. Most times, I am there either appreciating some permanent exhibit or being drawn to a special exhibit or event. Sometimes, I could be found simply sitting at the museum Cafe sipping green tea and lingering over an apple almond tart. It is at these moments when I am moved to write. The writing I do these days is for my blog.  

Top 10 Restaurants We Love in Spain

By Lu Sobredo Gastronomy and Spain have become synonymous. Writing this photo essay makes me think of scrumptious meals. My mouth is literally watering with great longing to return.   Since starting my blog in 2016, my husband and I are often asked for recommendation of places to eat when in Spain. I have given recommendations in a private message through my travel Facebook Page: Lutravelsabroad . And I do it happily. But there is no reason to keep our recommendations private. When one finds a gold mine, I believe it is important to share the wealth. My family and I have managed to partake in culinary feasts on a budget when traveling. When we do some modest splurging, it is all planned and calculated into our travel expense. Why not live a little while we still can? If curious, you can still access my first Blog post on the subject: Happy Eating on a Budget in Spain . This earlier essay takes you from the Madrid area and Barcelona, to the Galician region in Santiago de

Walking the Camino de Santiago: Pilgrimage on My Terms (Parts 1 & 2)

By Lu Sobredo PART I Introduction Walking near the border of France and Spain through the Spanish Pyrenees to the city of Santiago de Compostela was not the vacation I envisaged, not for my first trip to Spain in 2010. However, my husband James, the avid adventurer had other ideas born out of an earlier visit to Madrid and Seville in 2006. It was a decision that turned out to be monumental for the family and deeply personal for me. Mother and Son Bonding on the Camino. ©James Sobredo This essay is sprinkled with practical hints from lessons learned in the pilgrimage. It is a personal reflection of the whole experience. It is about the physically challenging, emotionally invigorating, and spiritually uplifting journey. It was an experience made increasingly significant because of a life-changing diagnosis that followed three years later, a diagnosis that has rendered me chronically disabled. I sincerely hope this serves as an important reminder to all: act no

World in Motion: Part I -- Health Storm

WORLD IN MOTION: PART I A health storm descended on my family's lives... By Lu Sobredo The southeasterly wind howled. What has angered it so? The rain wasn’t happy either. The deluge   pounded against the wall near where I slept. There was swaying for sure. Or was I having one of those episodes that compelled my husband to drive me to a nearby hospital? We both agreed my symptoms were alarming enough that warranted a run to the emergency room.   I slowly opened my eyes to get my bearings. Still too dark to be morning. The light from the digital clock reminded me we spent the night in our sailboat. It was 3 a.m., Sunday January 6, 2019. Epiphany Sunday, the feast day for christians to commemorate when God the incarnate revealed as Jesus Christ to the Magi—The Three Kings. Somehow, I felt the Universe was speaking to me in kind words despite the tempestuous weather. Our boat was safely moored. However, the wrath of the storm hitting Northern California made itse

Life With RA: Exercise Strategy That Works, Article #5

LIFE WITH RA: EXERCISE STRATEGY THAT WORKS   Article #5 By Lu Sobredo Why write about exercise if you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?   Exercise was the last thing on my mind when RA inundated   major joints in my body starting in 2013. Pain was excruciating on both knees, ankles, wrists, fingers and hands. Inflammation and stiffness were so pronounced; I grew resentful over how the disease stole the flexibility my body once knew. Everyday routine did not happen without my husband's help. But I did my best to will my pained body to move. The body gradually adapted to gentle and measured movements. And three years after I began the regimen of medications & treatment, my RA-ridden body gradually stabilized.  There is no cure for what ails me, so who knows what the future holds.  However,  I am convinced that without attempts at movement, the disease could have crippled me irrevocably. With a Physical Therapist Early in RA Treatment. ©James Sobredo