A gateway to Spain
Before entering Spain via Roncevaux Pass, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, known as Donibane Garazi in Basque and capital of the Basse Navarre area, is the last stopover in France for pilgrims on the Santiago de Compostela trail. At a junction where various pilgrims’ routes meet, the Porte Saint Jacques, located at the start of Rue de la Citadelle, forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Going down this cobbled street proves memorable, the way lined with houses with door lintels in carved pink and grey sandstone.
Continue by exploring the medieval lanes and their shops selling woven wares, Basque linen, espadrilles and other local specialities. Next, cross Pont Neuf bridge and admire the historic houses with their wooden balconies reflected in the River Nive. The town remains lively year-round. On Mondays, those on their bike trip can enjoy stopping at the traditional market. Certainly, recharging your batteries here before tackling Roncevaux Pass makes perfect sense!