It’s been quite awhile since my last posting but I thought I would finally get around to posting the photos I took in weeks prior to walking the Camino de Santiago. Before my start in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, I visited several places along the Atlantic coast including Bordeaux, Bayonne, Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz, all lively and picturesque towns located within the famous Basque region. On May 8th I was in Bayonne. The River Nive divides Bayonne into Grand Bayonne and Petit Bayonne, with five bridges between the two, both quarters still backed by Vauban's walls. We parked our car across the river near the Church of Saint Andrew. L'église St-André is actually a 19th century construction and is the result of a donation made by a Bayonne resident to the city in order to finance its construction. Its appearance is influenced by the Gothic style in use during the 13th century. The houses lining the Nive are examples of Basque architecture, with half-timbering and shutters in the national colors of red and green. The busy Place de la Liberté is a square at the western end of Pont Mayou, the bridge which crosses the River Neve at the northern end of the old town. The town hall, the local administrative offices and the theatre, all under the same roof, stand at one end of the square. The town’s motto nunquam polluta (never spoiled) is engraved on the marble paving in front of the National Theater. This is one of the typical, narrow streets in the district of Grand Bayonne with the twin towers of Cathédrale Sainte-Marie in the distance. The charming pedestrian precinct is lined with low arcades, beneath which famous pastry shops and confectioners tempt passers-by with mouth watering displays of chocolates. The art of chocolate making was brought to Bayonne in the 17th century by Jews whose ancestors had been banished from Spain and Portugal. The Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne was previously occupied by a Romanesque cathedral that was destroyed by two fires in 1258 and 1310. Construction of the present cathedral began in the 13th century and was completed at the beginning of the 17th, except for the two spires which were not finished until the 19th century. The structure has been much restored and refurbished, notably by Émile Boeswillwald, architect to the French government in the 19th century, and a pupil of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The cathedral is noted for its charming cloisters which are decorated with a number of funerary monuments. The cathedral stands on the Pilgrimage Way of Santiago de Compostela. A 13th century sculpted knocker, known as the sanctuary ring, is fixed to the north door, leading to the transept. Any fugitive criminal who seized the knocker was assured the sanctuary within the church. A beautiful walk is assured along the ramparts of the city which extend from the 16th century Chateau Vieux (Old Castle) to the Porte d’Espagna. For lunch, we ate at a charming restaurant in the center of town where we had the plât du jour of ham cutlets and cooked wheat. It was delicious but way too much food for me.