Saint Jean Pied de Port/Donibane Garazi

Over a period of years, during the winter months when few people are out, I painted a series of paintings of the Rue de la Citadelle in Saint Jean Pied de Port. This street, where I have my studio, winds steeply downwards from the 17th century fortress, "la Citadelle", that guards the lower end of the mountain pass connecting this part of the Basque Country with Navarre, on the other side or the Pyrenees.

 

The Romans came this way when they traversed the territories that they ruled on both sides of the Pyrenees. So did the troops of Charlemagne and Napoleon. Today, Saint Jean Pied de Port, or Donibane Garazi in Basque, is an important staging post for modern-day pilgrims on the route to the shrine of St James the Apostle at Santiago de Compostela. They enter the town through the medieval gate of St James and descend the Rue de la Citadelle.