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Coordinates: 43¬į09‚Ä≤54‚Ä≥N 1¬į14‚Ä≤08‚Ä≥WÔĽŅ / ÔĽŅ43.165¬įN 1.23555555556¬įWÔĽŅ / 43.165; -1.23555555556

Commune of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
St Jean Pied-de-Port.jpg
Old bridge over river Nive

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is located in France
Country France
Region Aquitaine
Department Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Arrondissement Bayonne
Canton Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Intercommunality Garazi-Ba√Įgorri
Mayor Alphonse Idiart
Elevation 159‚Äď320 m (520‚Äď1,050 ft)
(avg. 180 m/590 ft)
Land area1 2.73 km2 (1.05 sq mi)
Population2 1,754  (2006)
 - Density 642 /km2 (1,660 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 64485/ 64220
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km¬≤ (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (literally meaning "Saint John at the foot of the mountain pass" in French) (Basque: Donibane Garazi) is a commune in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-western France.

It is the old capital of the traditional Basque province of Lower Navarre.



The town lies on the river Nive, 8 km (5.0 mi) from the Spanish border. It is essentially one main street with sandstone walls encircling.


Neighboring municipalities


The original town at nearby Saint-Jean-le-Vieux was razed to the ground in 1177 by the troops of Richard the Lionheart after a siege. The Kings of Navarre refounded the town on its present site shortly afterwards.

The town has traditionally been an important point on the Way of St. James, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, as it stands at the base of the Roncevaux Pass across the Pyrenees. Pied-de-Port means 'foot of the pass' in Pyrenean French. The routes from Paris, Vézelay and Le Puy-en-Velay meet at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and it was the pilgrims' last stop before the arduous mountain crossing.

In 1998, the Porte St-Jacques (city gate) was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites as part of the sites along the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.


The cobbled rue de la Citadelle runs down hill and over the river from the fifteenth century Porte St-Jacques to the Porte d'Espagne by the bridge.

Bridge at St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, 1940
by Louis Dewis

From the bridge, there are views of the old houses with balconies overlooking the Nive. Many of the buildings are very old, of pink and grey schist, and retain distinctive features, including inscriptions over their doors. One, a bakery, lists the price of wheat in 1789.

The 14th century red schist Gothic church, Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont, stands by the Porte d'Espagne. The original was built by Sancho the Strong of Navarre to commemorate the 1212 Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa where Moorish dominance of Spain was undermined.

Above the town at the top of the hill is the citadel, remodelled by Vauban in the 17th century.

Outside the walls is a new town, with the H√ītel de Ville and a pelota fronton.


Traditional crafts and foods remain in the town, including Basque linen from the Inchauspé family since 1848. The town is now an important tourist centre for the Pyrenees and the French Basque country and there are shops, restaurants and hotels.

Mondays see a large market, with sheep and cattle driven into the town. At 5pm, there is a communal game of bare-handed pelote at the fronton. There are large fairs four times a year.


Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is the terminus on the railway line from Bayonne through the French Basque Country, along the valley of the river Nive, with several services each day. It is 1 km from the centre of the town.

Notable people

See also


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


St Jean Pied De Port is in Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France.

Get in

By train.

Get around



Begin the Way of St. James (Spanish: El Camino de Santiago, El Camino; Galician: O Cami√Īo de Santiago, Ruta Xacobea; French: Chemin de St-Jacques, German: Jakobsweg)

This is a popular starting point, if not the most popular starting points for those who are beginning the Way of St. James. Referred to as pilgrims or peregrinos in Spanish, many international travelers choose this as the starting point in France that is closest to the Spanish border. Pilgrims will begin by reporting in to the Pilgrim's Office to obtain their credencial to begin their journey.

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Simple English

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a commune of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département in the southwestern part of France.


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