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Saint Palais - a pretty Pyrénéan town

The town of St Palais is set in the lovely, mountainous south-west of France. It is a typically Basque place, where tradition and culture still count for something, and where the weekly farmer's market (on Fridays) is an important event both socially and economically. St Palais, which lies on the ancient pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela, is an important agricultural centre for the region, and is the capital town of the old province of the Pays de Mixe.

Unspoiled countryside

The countryside around the town of St Palais is some of the most unspoiled and beautiful in France. The economy here is totally rural and agricultural, with no industry to interfere with the peaceful grazing of the cows and sheep, or to pollute the mountain air, or the clean fresh rivers. There is some tourism, it is true, but of the kind known as Green Tourism, which enables tourists to appreciate the natural beauty of the area, and to take part in activities such as hiking, cycling and following nature trails rather than necessitating the creation of theme parks, nightclubs and indoor leisure centres.

Shopping and dining in Saint Palais

The little town offers a very useful selection of shops, and you can access almost everything you will need for day to day living within St Palais itself. There are some restaurants too, and these are highly recommended, as the Basque cuisine is perhaps the finest that France has to offer, with some deliciously different dishes to be found in this part of the country.

Places of interest to visit

St Palais is an interesting town, and one place that is certainly worth a visit is the Museum of Navarre, which traces life throughout the ages in this unique and fascinating region. There are also several interesting buildings in the town, notably the Maison des Têtes (the House of Heads), La Maison du Roi (the House of the King), and the bridge on the Bidouze.

Fêtes and festivals

St Palais is in the Basque region of France, and is fiercely proud of its Basque heritage and traditions. The language is spoken by around half of the townsfolk, although they will also usually be able to speak French. St Palais hosts several cultural events during the year, and these are both colourful and entertaining. These take place at the end of March, the end of July, and the most important event, the Force de Basque, takes place in August of every year. This festival is great fun, and includes a sort of Basque Strongest Man contest... definitely one for the diary!

Out and about

There are a number of sporting activities available in and near Saint Palais. The town has a swimming pool, and nearby you can try your hand at caving, climbing, fishing, mountain biking, hiking or canoeing, or if you prefer gentler pursuits you can enjoy wine tasting, gourmet dining, shopping and sightseeing. The Atlantic coast is within easy reach, as is Spain, so you should find that the old saying, "When you are in the Basque country you can never be bored" is true indeed.

How to get there

You can fly to Pau, Biarritz or to Bordeaux. Pau and Biarritz are both served by Ryanair, while Bordeaux is served by British Airways, Aer Lingus, easyJet and flybe. Rail travel also an option, with the TGV running to Bayonne, Bordeaux, Biarritz and Toulouse. Drivers will find the town on the D11 from the A64 auto route.

Property prices and availability in and around Saint Palais

The Pyrénées-Atlantiques is known as a relatively expensive department, as it is so rich in natural splendour. However, away from the coast in a town such as St Palais, it is certainly possible to find a bargain if you keep a careful eye on the market.

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Saint Palais AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Saint Palais?

Saint Palais is situated in the far south-west of France. It lies in the centre of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department.

Saint Palais Property Map


Aquitaine Guide

Aquitaine Property Map


Pyrénées-Atlantiques Guide

  Pyrénées-Atlantiques Map

Population: 1,701

Access: By air: The airports of Pau, Biarritz and Bordeaux are all within easy reach. By rail: The TGV runs to Biarritz and Bordeaux. By road: The town is located on the D11 which is near the A64 auto route.

Economy: The economy is strongly agricultural.

Interesting fact: The town is the capital of the old province known as the Pays de Mixe, which in turn forms part of what is known as Basque France.

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