What to see in France

Camping to discover the charm and authenticity of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Vue brumeuse depuis Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Vue brumeuse depuis Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port


Located in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, St-Jean-Pied-de-Port is known to pilgrims as the last stop on the road to Santiago de Compostela. A real tourist centre, its charming bridge over the River Nive, its pink sandstone ramparts, the old buildings of its historic town and its typical façades plunging into the water attract 55,000 visitors every year and are all attractions worth discovering. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and the surrounding area also has a number of campsites where you can explore the town and its region in complete tranquillity.

Campsites in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

There is only one campsite in the commune of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the municipal Plaza-Berri **. It has 53 pitches and a tennis court for sports enthusiasts, as well as fishing in the Nive river. The area is also ideal for hiking, with several footpaths leading from the campsite.

The Europ Camping **** campsite in Ascarat is a 5-minute drive from the historic centre of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Enjoy the outdoor swimming pool and the magnificent setting at the foot of the mountains. The campsite has a bar-restaurant, Wi-Fi and table tennis and pétanque tournaments.

Explore the riches of the village…

The walk up to the citadel is magnificent, with superb old houses on both sides of the street that climbs to the entrance to the 17th-century fortified town, listed as one of France's Most Beautiful Villages. Set on a rocky outcrop, you'll be treated to breathtaking views over the rooftops of the town and the Pyrenees, as well as cobbled medieval streets, pink sandstone walls and various bridges

Rue de la Citadelle
Rue de la Citadelle© iStock


A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Porte Saint-Jacques is also a place not to be missed. The best way to discover it is on the way back down from the citadel and admire the sculpted lintels decorating the old houses, while browsing the shops along the way.

Thanks to its location on the banks of the River Nive and nestling in the mountains, the town known as the capital of Lower Navarre offers charming walks along the river and over its pretty old bridges. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is said to be the prettiest town in the northern Basque Country.

A stroll along the banks of the Nive
A stroll along the banks of the Nive © iStock

… and its gastronomic heritage

There's no denying that the charming village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is also worth a visit for its food! How could you miss the Espelette chilli pepper? It grows at the foot of the Pyrenees and is undoubtedly the most emblematic product of the Basque Country, as well as the most famous chilli pepper in France. The garlands of chilli peppers that decorate the charming facades of houses are also typical of the region.

The Basque cake is a traditional Basque pastry made from a soft biscuit into which is added a creamy custard or black cherry jam, depending on taste. You'll find them in any good bakery in the Basque Country. Every year, the Basque cake festival takes place in Cambo-les-Bains in October. Finally, there's a Basque cake museum in Sare, where you can find out all the secrets of how it's made.

Ossau-Iraty is a PDO uncooked cheese made from the whole milk of local ewes of three different breeds. It is traditionally enjoyed with black cherry jam, or as an aperitif, in a salad or gratin, to discover its melt-in-the-mouth flavour and delicate hazelnut aromas. You can discover the producers on the Ossau-Iraty Cheese Route through the superb mountain landscapes of Béarn, dotted with flocks of ewes.

Ossau-Iraty, a sheep's milk cheese from the Basque Country
Ossau-Iraty, a sheep's milk cheese from the Basque Country © iStock


Other culinary specialities await you in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, including piperade, a kind of ratatouille made with onions, tomatoes and Espelette chilli pepper; garbure, a kind of soup similar to potée, to which goose confit is added; and poulet basquaise, simmered with tomatoes, peppers and cured ham.




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