Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (literally meaning "Saint John at the foot of the mountain pass" in French) is a commune in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-western France close to Ostabat in the Pyrenean foothills. The town is also the old capital of the traditional Basque province of Lower Navarre. This is also the starting point for the Camino Frances, the most popular option for travelling the Camino de Santiago, and appeared in the movie The Way.
The original town at nearby Saint-Jean-le-Vieux was razed to the ground in 1177 by the troops of Richard the Lionheart after a siege. The Kings of Navarre refounded the town on its present site shortly afterwards.
The town was thereafter a town of the Kingdom of Navarre, and the seat of the sheriff of the Lower Navarre district ("merindad" of Ultrapuertos or Deça-Ports). It stack to that category up to the period of the Spanish conquest (1512-1528), when King Henry II of Navarre decided to transfer the seat of the royal institutions to Saint Palais (Donapaleu) on safety grounds.
The town has traditionally been an important point on the Way of St. James, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, as it stands at the base of the Roncevaux Pass across the Pyrenees. Pied-de-Port means 'foot of the pass' in Pyrenean French. The routes from Paris, Vézelay and Le Puy-en-Velay meet at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and it was the pilgrims' last stop before the arduous mountain crossing.