Monday, October 26, 2015

Espellette

Espellete is basically 20 houses of which two are hotels, two are restaurant, and the rest are little stores that sell what the village is famous for: Piment d'Espellette!


The village is about 40 minutes by car from Biarritz which means if you don't have a car, you are pretty much out of luck - unless ... your parents happen to be on vacation in the same region and happily agree to be your chauffeur!
-->













Espellette is cute, but there really isn't a whole lot to do besides shop for piment. The question of course is: where do you buy it? The answer is: I don't know. Maybe it helps to imagine that all piment is probably manufactured in the same place and then filled into glasses and jars of individual vendors, so all you have to do is choose your favorite label! At least this soothing fantasy helped me overcome my FOFOMO (Foodie fear of missing out) and just choose whichever! The piment is quite spicy, so I have to be gentle when using it in my kitchen. 




Though I would always prefer the ocean front, this little excursion to the Basque backcountry was really worth it, also for the tiny Brocante we went to, the breakfast we had at this totally unpretentious, super cheap brasserie (that turned out to serve home made yoghurt for breakfast?!? That would never happen in Germany *liftingFranceevenhigheronmyglorifyingpedestal*) and the trip to the ocean (oops) in the afternoon.
























































































copyright of all photos j.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hiking along the Basque coast

After my hikes through Bretagne last summer, even this year, I wanted to include some hiking in my summer vacation. I had asked the local office du tourisme for advice via email, and they sent me a pdf with a hike along the sentier littoral - exactly what I was looking for!


















The hike leads you along the coast all the way to Saint Jean de Luz and you come across half a dozen of beautiful beaches along the way so bring your bikini! As you will stop by some really awesome viewpoints, I recommend you also pack a picknick for breakfast. The hike itself is a constant up and down (geographically speaking), so you better not have any knee issues, haha! 


In my next life, I want to be reborn as this clothes line ... what do I have to do in order to build up the Kharma for that?






































So, besides Biarritz, Saint Jean de Luz is another very popular fisher village that has been transformed into a busteling tourist destination. In many guide books, it is said to be a lot nicer than Biarritz, something I can't understand at all. I admit I only spent about 2 hours there, but what I saw was ok, not more not less. Sure, the houses feel mor Côte Basque with their traditional architecture, but it felt very touristy. And, helllooo, how can you tame the wild Atlantic ocean by building wave breakers  in the bay??? I mean sure, the many families on the beach sure liked the idea of letting their little children into the water that looked more like the Mediterranean, but hey, if that is what you are looking for, then why don't you just go there instead?


























Don't you just have to like this drawig at the lifeguard-post? Speaking of lifeguards, in the life after my reincarnation as the clothes line, I would like to be reborn as Mitch (that is the Baywatch-word for lifeguard)! I mean, all lifeguards have to do is stare at the ocean, which is basically all I ever do during my vacations which means that my job would feel like one long vacation! I mean it's a good thing that they have so little to do, but on the other hand ... isn't that quite an uneventful job? (and, on a side note, is there some secret law that says that lifeguards may look good from behind, but have to have ugly, dumb faces?).

























I had also packed a picknick for lunch, but there are several really nice beach restaurants along the way, serving local specialites with a spectacular view at what you would say are quite moderate prices.




Ah, the joy of enjyoing a hearty picknick after a couple of hours of hiking!
-->

copyright of all photos j.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Biarritz // She's got the whole world in her hand...

Biarritz on the Basque coast is only about 2 hours by TGV from Bordeaux which makes it the perfect town to spend a couple of days on the beach especially if you don't own a car! 


Biarritz is very sophisticated, with lovely old villas, a spectacular grand hotel (that I would happily trade in for a camping site any time) and has the perfect size: with its roughly 30 000 inhabitants, it has just the right amount of crowd you want - not too many, not too few. The fact that the town sports its own galerie lafayette department store shows however how popular a beach resort it is. There are plenty of beaches that, and here it comes, you can get to via a FREE shuttle bus service that runs on top of the local bus service which itself only costs 1 euro! Of course all the buses run on electricity, mon Dieu, this is almost too good to be true!! The money you save this way can be spent on things like gorgeous tartelettes (see below) or ice cream!



















There are plenty of view points in Biarritz, for instance the rocher de la Vierge, or the lighthouse on the cliffs overlooking the northern part of the bay. From the main beach, it is about a 30 minute walk to get there, and I recommend going early in the morning to avoid the crowd (though that means you won't get the chance to climb up the lighthouse). Take a pain aux raisins (by far the best one is sold at Christophe Brousse's boulangerie at 33 Avenue de Verdun) with you for breakfast, and a thermos with tea!



































So, am I the only person to find this photo, ahm, well, slightly awkward? At least my inner teenager with puberty in full bloom chuckles and giggles at it...

































At the main beach, you can rent little striped umbrella-tents and this again is something I really like about France. In Warnemünde, they rent out Coca Cola umbrellas, in Biarritz, even the umbrellas come in style!


































So, what to do with all the money you save because you can take the free bus shuttle service? My unbiased recommendation, ach, well, no, I'll let the drill master sergeant out: You have to absolutely invest that money in patisserie-pieces of art from the legendary Miremont patisserie! This little tartellette aux pommes, which Miremont calls "Golden" was probably one of the best things I have ever eaten! I truly felt like I had the whole world in my hand (sorry by the way for giving you a horrible catchy tune that you will sing in your head for the rest of the day... ...) when I was holding it up for the photo on the beach! It comes with slightly, slightly caramelized apples with vanille, underneath that an almond cream with hints of calvados, topped with delicious, crumbly shortcrust squares and a slice of dried apple. As with all good things in life, you discover them too late - I had the first and only one the day I left... otherwise, it would have been a staple while being in Biarritz. Miremont by the way also has a salon de thé with huge windows that open to a breathtaking view of the ocean, so in the unlikely event of heavy rain, this is the place you want to go to in Biarritz!

























copyright of all photos j.