The Tour de France and the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift on the move for cycling as a means of transport

Sub-prefecture of Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Stage town for the 33rd time
Population: 52,000.
Personalities: Didier Deschamps (football). Roger Lapébie (winner of the 1937 Tour de France). Jean Dauger (international rugby player), Edmond de Lancastre (1er Earl of Lancaster, died in Bayonne in 1296), Léon Bonnat (painter), René Cassin (Nobel Peace Prize in 1968). Katia and Marielle Labèque (pianists).  
Specialities: Bayonne ham. Bayonne chocolates.
Culture and festivals: Bayonne Festival. Bayonne celebrates its chocolate. Ham Fair (April).  Arènes en scène (July). Festival Paseo (summer). Jazz in March (in Tarnos). Haizebegi Festival (music, October)
Sports: Aviron Bayonnais (rugby, football, rowing), Denek Bat Bayonne Urcuit (basketball), headquarters of the French Federation of Basque Pelota.
Events: Ramparts race (walking race, March)
Economy: port of Bayonne, chemicals, metallurgy, tourism, services (supermarkets). Hospital centre of the Basque Coast.
Basque name: Baiona.
Websites / FB / Twitter / Instagram: /

Vue sur le paysage urbain de Bayonne Getty/locknloadlabrador © Getty/locknloadlabrador


Bayonne has already hosted the Tour de France 32 times since 1906, but the city has not hosted the Grande Boucle since 2003, when American Tyler Hamilton won a bunch sprint here. No less than six Tour winners have raised their arms here: Petit-Breton (1907, 1908 and 1909), Lapize (1910), Lambot (1920), Bottecchia (1925), Frantz (1926) and Anquetil (1966). During the first visit of the Tour, in 1906, the victory went to an almost local rider, Jean-Baptiste Dortignacq, from Peyrehorade, 35 km away. Beaten in a sprint by Louis Trousselier, he benefited from Trousselier's downgrading after he failed to show up at a checkpoint. Nicknamed "La Gazelle", Dortignacq won seven stages in the Tour de France, finishing on the podium in 1904 and 1905. The city has also featured five times in the Vuelta. Bayonne is the birthplace of Roger Lapébie, winner of the 1937 Tour de France and of nine stages of the Tour. Other riders from Bayonne include Paul Maye, winner of two stages of the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix 1945, three editions of Paris-Tours and two times French champion.

Roger Lapébie, vainqueur du Tour de France en 1937 © Presse Sports


Bayonne Festival 
The Fêtes de Bayonne are one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festive gatherings in south-west France. For five days, in the heart of summer, the city is transformed into the capital of the festival with a backdrop of traditions, music, song and joie de vivre around its King Léon. It was the former rugby players of the Aviron Bayonnais who created the Bayonne festivals in 1932. That year, on their way back from the already famous festivals in Pamplona, Bayonne's twin city, the Bayonne players launched the idea of organising a festive gathering in their city. The mayor at the time, Joseph Garat, approved the project and the machine was set in motion. Immediately, a certain alchemy took shape and the people of Bayonne immediately and happily associated themselves with the initiative. The Fêtes de Bayonne were born and, since 13 July 1932, they have continued to grow until they have become one of the references in this field in France... and in the world!  

Bayonne Citadel
Construction: late 17th century
Style: Vauban fortress.
Characteristics: the citadel consists of a square of 480 metres on each side with four large bastions with orillons, three half-moons, pincers in the ditches of the curtains to facilitate the exits. At present, the Porte de l'Adour, known as the Porte Royale, is closed, and its former guardhouse houses offices. The Porte de Secours on the northern façade is now the only entrance.
History: after having been a prison during the French Revolution and the First Empire, the citadel became a military camp for various regiments. The 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment has been garrisoned there since its creation in 1960. 
Listing: Historical Monument since 1929.  

Basque Museum
Construction: 16th century for the Dagourette house. The museum opened in 1924.
Characteristics: The Basque and History Museum of Bayonne presents a historiographic and ethnographic collection dedicated to the Basque Country in France. It ranges from the daily life of shepherds and farmers since protohistory, tools, domestic and traditional arts, paintings, games and dances, to the Basque identity through the centuries. It was renovated in 2011.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1991. Museum of France since 2003.  

St. Mary's Cathedral
Construction: 1213, completed in the 16th century. 
Style: Gothic
Characteristics: ogival cathedral, topped by two 85 m high spires. It contains the shrine of Saint Léon, bishop of Bayonne in the 9th century. A cloister, dating from 1240, is adjacent to it.
History: Since the end of the 4th century, Bayonne has been the seat of a bishopric and has a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was destroyed by the Normans and then by the Moors. In the 12th century, Bishop Raymond de Martres planned to build a Romanesque cathedral dedicated to Our Lady on the site of the current cathedral. It already had a cloister, of which the western outer wall is probably the oldest vestige. In 1258, a great fire destroyed half of the city and Bayonne called on an anonymous architect, the "Master of Champagne", who rebuilt the building in the Gothic style.
Special features: the cloister, in the radiating Gothic style, is one of the largest in France. In the Middle Ages, it was a place of meeting and conversation for assemblies of districts or guilds. It is still the venue for cultural events such as the Artisans du cloître and concerts. It has been completely restored in recent years and is managed by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux.
Listing: Historical Monument in 1862. Unesco World Heritage Site as part of the Camino de Santiago since 1998.  

Construction: 11th to 17th centuries.
Style: medieval fortress
History: Château-Vieux (Old Castle) is built on the edge of the site of a Roman castrum which housed the garrison and the administration of the region called Lapurdum. From the end of the 11th century, the Viscounts of Labourd built a fortress based on three strongly reinforced Roman towers. At the end of the 15th century, it took the name of Château-Vieux, after the construction of a new castle, known as Château-Neuf, in the Petit-Bayonne district. In the 17th century, the castle was redeveloped by Vauban.
Current use: the castle is the HQ of the city's military authorities.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1931.  

Construction: 15th century. 
Style: fortress
History: after the Hundred Years' War, the French, having taken over the town in 1451, decided to improve its defensive system by building the new castle, which was built against the English wall from the beginning of the 14th century. The castle made it possible to deal with Spanish or English threats and to prevent any desire on the part of the Bayonne population to revolt. In 1520, the castle was reinforced. In 1680, Vauban was sent to Bayonne. He increased the barracks capacity of the new castle and had the lower windows walled in. The new castle retained its function as a barracks until it was disused by the army in the 1980s.
Characteristics: the castle is a quadrangular defensive complex comprising, to the south-west, a round tower dating from the 1460s, with its two adjoining curtain walls. To the south-east is the square tower, also known as the "Mocoron tower", which belonged to the English urban enclosure. To the north-east stands the Mocoron Gate. This former 14th century town gate has two polygonal towers. The English curtain wall remains to the north. The quarter-circle tower served as a dungeon. To the south of the square north-west tower stands an oblong tower built around 1462.
Current use: since 1995, it has housed the Nive campus of the UPPA (University of Pau and the Pays de l'Adour) and the administrative services.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1929.    

Château de Marracq
Construction: 18th century.
Style: Louis XIV
History: it was built at the beginning of the 18th century by Maria Anna of Neuburg, Queen of Spain in exile, but she never lived in it, preferring her residence of Saint-Michel. Napoleon I, after buying it on 19 May 1808 from the Marqfoy brothers, made it one of his imperial palaces. It was also here that the Abdication of Bayonne of the Bourbons of Spain was signed in April 1808 in favour of Napoleon I, who installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne. During the Restoration, Marracq remained unoccupied. The army moved in in 1823, but the castle was devastated by fire in 1825.
Current use: today it belongs to the city of Bayonne. To the south of the castle is the Marracq College.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1907.

L'ouverture des Fêtes de Bayonne © Ville de Bayonne/Mathieu Prat
La Citadelle de Bayonne, vue depuis sa Porte Royale © Creative Commons 3.0/Glaz
La façade du Musée Basque © Creative Commons 4.0/Jérôme Villafruela
La Cathédrale Sainte-Marie, depuis son cloître © Getty/philipimage
Le Château-Vieux, forteresse médiévale de Bayonne © Creative Commons 3.0/Léna
Le Château-Neuf de Bayonne © Creative Commons 3.0/Bruno Barral
Les ruines du Château de Marracq © Daniel Villafruela


Bayonne Ham
According to legend, the origin of Bayonne Ham lies in a chain of circumstances. One day, during a hunt, Gaston Fébus, Count of Foix, wounded a wild boar which ran away and was discovered by hunters, a few months later, fallen into a saltwater spring in Salies de Béarn. The animal was in perfect condition. This is how salting was born in the Adour basin... Today, Bayonne Ham is protected by a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), which defines it as a 'trimmed pork leg, salted with dry salt from the Adour basin and cured in the Pays de l'Adour area, located in the South-West of France for more than 7 months'. The PGI delimits the production area of the pigs to be used, "pigs from the South-West", which must have been fattened on a feed containing at least 60% cereals, or cereals and peas. The area where the hams are processed (salting, drying, maturing, boning) is the south-west of the river Adour. The techniques used by the salters are derived from traditional knowledge. The fresh hams are rubbed and massaged with dry salt from the Adour Basin saltworks. The coarse salt used for salting Bayonne hams comes exclusively from the Salies-de-Béarn saltworks, a natural spring salt that obtained the PGI in 2016. The hams are then placed in cold rooms at 3-4°C and 80% humidity for eight to twelve days depending on their weight.

La découpe du célèbre Jambon de Bayonne © Getty/Cyril Aucher

Follow us

Receive exclusive news about the Tour