Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, located near the Spanish border, is the last stopover town on the way to Compostela in France.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

The last stopover town on the way to Compostela

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is surely one of the most famous villages in the Basque Country. Renowned for its citadel and the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the medieval village is located at the foot of the passes leading to Spain, the border being just 10 minutes away. You are there in the heart of the AOP of the Irouléguy vineyard, as evidenced by the vines which are staged on the surrounding hillsides, 30 minutes from Saint-Palais and Cambo-les-Bains, and 45 minutes from Mauléon- Licharre. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is the last stopover town on the way to Compostela in France, before attacking the mythical crossing of the Pyrenees towards Roncesvalles, in Spain.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Copyright Pierre Carton

The “Camino Frances”, a historic route

Since the 12th century, the village has been the obligatory crossing point for thousands of walkers who wish to reach Santiago de Compostela on foot, by the GR 65. On the Napoleon road, which crosses the mountains, walkers can take a break and a short prayer to the Virgin of Orisson (or Virgin of Biakorri). The Thibault cross, a few kilometers further, is the ideal place to make a last wish, symbolized by a ribbon tied to the monument, for a peaceful journey. All along this 27 km climb, walkers enjoy a splendid panorama of the Basque Pyrenees. After about 7 hours of walking, and an arduous descent into the forest of Roncesvalles, the pilgrims reach the Spanish village. The address to remember for the Camino de Compostela in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is n°39, rue de la Citadelle. This address is the reception office for pilgrims to Compostela. Do you have a question about preparing your way, or when you arrive in the village ? They will answer it! Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, capital of the Pays de Cize, is the last French stage of the “Camino Frances”, a historic route on the way to Santiago de Compostela.

Typical and preserved Basque architecture

In 2019, more than 57,000 pilgrims crossed the town, to set off on the legendary stage that allows you to cross the Pyrenees: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port – Roncesvalles. The place not to be missed, if you want to learn more about the past of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and the way to Saint Jacques de Compostela is the so-called Prison of « Bishops« . Since its classification among the Most Beautiful Villages of France in 2016, « Garazi », as the locals say, is popular for many other assets : its typical and preserved Basque architecture, its green landscapes opening onto the Pyrenees, the know-how of its producers and craftsmen, its cultural dynamism… Pilgrims, heritage enthusiasts, hiking enthusiasts, gourmets and the curious… now find themselves on the same path !

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