Nestled in the southwest corner of France along the Atlantic coast just a short drive from the Spanish border lies the picturesque city of Bayonne. Known for its narrow medieval streets, half-timbered houses, and dazzling Cathedral with its gothic-influenced architecture, Bayonne also has quite a gastronomic reputation in France.
This area of the country epitomizes the French Basque region, which is world-renowned for its singular cuisine that stands apart from typical French fare. Today I’ll highlight five signature foods that Bayonne is famous for producing or cooking exceptionally well that every Francophile foodie must try.
From smooth, melt-in-your-mouth Bayonne ham that takes months to produce to the subtly smoky bite of Espelette pepper harvested from nearby farms, the flavors of Bayonne reflect the terroir of this unique corner where the Pyrenées meet the sea and Spain meets France.
If you’re heading to France, be sure to sample authentic versions of these specialties when visiting this charismatic town! If you are stuck at home, there are plenty of recipes for cooking up Basque country classics at home.
Let’s take a virtual tasty tour of some of the top delicacies Bayonne, France has become known for.
Bayonne, France is known for a few signature foods and ingredients that make it a top gastronomic destination in Europe.
Jambon de Bayonne (Ham)
Bayonne is most renowned for its distinctive cured ham called “Jambon de Bayonne.” This high-quality ham is made from specially raised pigs and seasoned with local salt from the Adour River basin.
Bayonne is famous for its high-quality air-dried ham that is salted and aged for months or years. Jambon de Bayonne has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) certification.
Bayonne ham pâté/rillettes are equally noteworthy. Smooth patés and rillettes are made locally using the renowned Bayonne ham as an ingredient.
The Espelette pepper is a specialty chili pepper that comes from the Basque region near Bayonne. It has a slightly smoky flavor and is used to season local dishes. It also has a PDO certification.
Axoa is a veal or beef stew made with Espelette peppers and onions. It’s a signature Basque country dish commonly found in the Bayonne area.
A dish made by sautéing peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and Bayonne ham or other cured meats from the region. Usually served with eggs.
These small round Basque cakes are filled with pastry cream or cherry jam. They are a beloved special occasion dessert.
Bayonne is known for its artisanal chocolate shops that produce chocolate using traditional techniques. Dark chocolate made with cocoa butter is a popular local specialty.
Bayonne is celebrated across France for its delicious chocolates, particularly “chocolat noir” or dark chocolate, which is crafted by skilled artisans in the area. The city of bayonne has even become known as the chocolate capital of France!
Bayonne city also offers tasty Basque cuisine, featuring dishes like piperade (a pepper and tomato-based dish), Basque chicken, and dishes featuring the Espelette pepper, which adds a unique spice to many local meals.
There’s no doubt that Bayonne is renowned for its top-quality cured ham, spicy Espelette peppers from nearby, chocolate confections, and classic Basque cuisine like axoa stew and piperade. Its food is integrally tied to the culture and terroir of the Basque country surrounding Bayonne.