In Bayonne, on the second floor of an old private house in the faubourg Saint-Esprit, a neighborhood of the Jewish community, there is still a ritual bath, in accordance with the Israelite Law.
These old baths are among the last three in France, along with those in Carpentras and Montpellier. Like the cemetery, located a few blocks away, they bear witness to the presence of Hispanic-Portuguese Jewish families, established in the Saint-Esprit district at the beginning of the 16th century.
These baths have been documented since 1752, when the group of houses in which they are located was rebuilt, but if these houses were only remodeled, they may be very old.
The bath was fed by rainwater and water from a spring on the nearby hill, known as "du fort", which dominates the suburb, because the water for the mikveh had to be natural, rain, groundwater or spring, which means that it had to be neither drawn nor piped in.
The mikveh room is spacious. The bath itself consists of a pool for ablutions 1.34 m deep and a "bor" or water tank.
The two adjoining pools visible in the house on the Place de la République were dug into the ground. The Jewish bath, called "mikhva" or "mikve", was used for rites of purification of people and objects and obeyed precise rules of construction. The basin must be dug in the ground or built on the spot.
Eventually, the municipality wants to open to the public this remarkable site, registered as a Historic Monument in 2014.
Mikvé of Bayonne
32, place de la République
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator