St. Jean Pied de Port
St. Jean Pied de Port ,Saint John at the foot of the mountain pass, is a small picturesque walled town close to Ostabat in the French Pyrenean foothills.
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 re-founded the town on its present site shortly afterwards.
The town was once a part of the Spanish province of Navarra and the Basque language is still spoken on both sides of the border and they still share similar traditions such as the game of Pelota, similar to the Irish game of handball.
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.
It is the last stopping place where three pilgrims’ routes, Tours, Le Puy-en-Velay and Limoges, all meet before crossing the Pyrenees into Spain.
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 main street is the cobbled Rue de Citadelle which runs downhill past the 14th century Eglise Notre Dame de St Jean Pied de Port which has a fountain decorated with scallop shells outside and the Porte Notre Dame, the town gate.
Continuing on you will come to a bridge crossing the river Nive. From the bridge, there are beautiful views of the old houses with balconies overlooking the Nive. Many of the buildings and retain distinctive features, including inscriptions over their doors.
At the top of the Rue de Citadelle you can visit what remains of the 17th Century Citadel which has now been converted into a college. The Prison de Eveques, Prison of Bishops, is on this street as is a small museum dedicated the the Camino de Santiago.
Pilgrim Passport / Credencial
You can get your pilgrim passport / credencial from the pilgrim office Accueill at Rue de Citadelle 39
Tel: (0033) 0559 37 05 09.
It is open all day except at lunchtime.
St Jean Pied de Port is a fairly small town and is quite easy to find your way around. The Rue de Citadelle runs through the middle of the town. The Tourist office can be found on the Place Général de Gaulle nearby and is open Jul & Aug Mon–Sat 9am–12.30 & 2–7pm; Sep–Jun Mon–Sat 9am–noon & 2–7pm.
Getting There & Back
Albergue Municipal, Rue de Citadelle 55
Beds: 18, Open all year round. Has kitchen facilities.
Albergue Le Chemin Vers L’Etoile, 21, rue d’ Espagne. Tel : 0559 37 20 71
Beds: 18. Open Feb – Oct. Has cooking & laundry facilities as well as internet access.
Albergue L’Esprit de Chemin, Rue de Citadelle 40
Beds: 18, Open Apr – Sept. Offers dining services as well as lunch for the next days walk.
Albergue Esponda, Place du Trinquet 5 Tel: (0033) 0559 50 01 65
Beds: 20, Open all year round. Has kitchen facilities.
Hotel Ramuntcho ** Rue de Citadelle 24. Tel: (0033) – 0559 37 35 17
Hotel de Remparts **, Place Floquet 16. Tel: (0033) 0559 37 13 79
Hotel Etche Ona ** Place Floquet 15. Tel: (0033) 0559 37 01 14
Hotel De Pyréneés *** Place Général de Gaulle 19. Tel: (0033) 0559 37 01 01
Where to Eat
St Jean Pied de Port specialize in fromage de brebis or OssauIraty, sheeps cheese, local trout and pipérade, omelette with peppers & Bayonner ham.
There are plenty of good restaurants to choose from in the town.
Some of these are listed here
Tourist Information/ Oficina de Turismo
Opening: Jul & Aug Mon–Sat 9am–12.30 & 2–7pm
Sep–Jun Mon–Sat 9am–noon & 2–7pm;
Post Office / Oficina de Correos
Main Post Office, Rue de la Poste
Medical & Emergency Services
Emergency Number for all services: 112
Police Emergency: landline: 17 mobile 117
Fire Brigade: landline: 18 mobile 118
Mobile Emergency Medical Service: landline: 15 mobile 115
International directory assistance: for US/Canada 00 33 12 11; for all other countries tel 00 33 12 followed by the country code.
French operator: 12 for directory assistance, 13 to signal a fault.
Traffic, Time, Weather:
Traffic and road conditions: Paris and Ile de France: 01 48 99 33 33; rest of France: 08 36 68 20 00.
Weather: 08 36 68 02 + the number of the département (Alpes de Haute Provence: 04, Alpes Maritimes: 06, Bouches du Rhône: 13, Drôme: 26, Gard: 30, Hautes Alpes: 05, Var: 83, Vaucluse: 84)
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