Did you know that King Louis XIV got married in Saint-Jean-de-Luz? Well, wouldn't you?
In 1660, King Louis XIV of France was wedded to the Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain. The title infanta was given to the children of the king in Spain and Portugal.
While the marriage itself was not a particularly happy one – King Louis had numerous public love affairs – the story of the wedding has gone down in history as being somewhat legendary.
The reason the marriage was arranged in the first place was to ease the growing tensions between France and Spain. It was thought that the union of these two royal youngsters would do a lot of diplomatic good. Although it was met with some resistance by members of each country who resented the idea of a union between the two countries.
Nevertheless, the wedding happened and as a thank you for being so hospitable, the French king granted Saint-Jean-de-Luz some tax exemptions, which lasted for 30 years.
Portrait of King Louis XIV
The wedding took place in Saint-Jean-de-Luz because of its ideal location right on the border of France and Spain. Then, as now, Saint-Jean-de-Luz flourished and was considered the perfect spot for a religious, royal wedding. The wedding ceremony took place in the Saint Jean Baptist Church, which stood in the centre of the town. Visitors travelling to Saint-Jean-de-Luz today will still find the church in its original location. It is a living relic of a bygone era.
One interesting thing about the wedding between these two royals is what happened to the door after the ceremony. It is said, although not proved, that after the wedding was over, Louis XIV had the door that they had used to enter the church walled up so that no-one could ever use it again.
People in the baptist church in Saint Jean de Luz - © Saint-Jean-de-Luz
If you are interested in history then Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in the Basque Country, is a prime spot to let yourself be transported back in time whilst still enjoying the best that France has to offer. The antiquated architecture, combined with a gourmet cuisine scene and some excellent coastal landscapes, will make you wish you can stay in this little fairytale town forever.