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Bayonne

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Carte Aquitaine
Flag region Aquitaine

Bayonne
Administration & Statistics

Administration
Region Aquitaine
Departement Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Postal code 64100

Statistics
Elevation 0-52 m
land area 22 km2
Population 45,636 (2009)
Density 2,105 /km2
Bayonne in south western France in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques department, is the main town of Labourd and is part of the French Basque country.

In the 3rd century AD it was a Roman military site known as Lapurdum. In 840 Vilkings captured the area as they required a port which would give them access to the Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas. By the 12th century Bayonne had become an inportant port. Bayonne was part of Aquitaine, and it was ruled by the English. In the 17th century large fortifications were built in and around the city.

The city is divided into Grand Bayonne and Petit Bayonne by the River Nive. There are five attractive bridges connecting the two halves. The riverside bustles with restaurants, squares and a covered market. The quayside houses are half-timbered and has shutters painted the colours of the Basque flag.

Grand Bayonne has small narrow pedestrian streets lined with shops. It is the site of the Gothic Cathedral Sainte-Marie. The cathedral was constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries, with 16th century and 19th century towers. Close to the Cathedral is the Chateau-Vieux dating to the 12th century.

Petit Bayonne is a vibrant area full of Basque bars and restaurants. There are also two important museums in this area. The Musee Basque, has exhibits detailing the Basque history and way of life and the Musee Bonnat is one of the best art galleries in south west France.

Bull fighting is an important tradition in the area and there is a bullring beyond the city walls. Bull fighting is a large part of the five day Fetes de Bayonne in August, attracting many visitors.

Bayonne is famous for its local produce including Bayonne Ham cured with peppers, Izarra, a bright green or yellow liquor, distilled locally, and fine chocolates, produced in the town for five hundred years.

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