Tag Archives: St. Jean de Luz

The Basque Coast (just a country girl part 2)

After breakfast and showers were duly accomplished we set off for M. & P.’s old stomping ground of St. Jean de Luz. C. and L. had told us that the views of the Pyrenees were fabulous, particularly from the crest of the hill on the outskirts of Bidart.  They are indeed spectacular, although I can only say that this opinion is the result of occasional glances as I drove.  I didn’t find a “scenic viewpoint” at which I could safely stop and enjoy the view.

St. Jean de Luz isn’t a big town and it was easy to find a parking space.  Less easy, however, to find a coffee.  While we waited for a coffee/crepes/waffles/frites stall to open I took Brin down onto the beach for a run.  She found a pair of espadrilles stashed toe-down in the sand and decided that they were toys sent by some benevolent puppy-god and was just about to let rip with gay abandon when their owner espied her and divined her intentions.  He quickly became her new best friend, and she ran alongside him …… all the way down the beach to where some lycee students were receiving surfing lessons (how cool is that: to have surfing lessons as part of your schooling?).  I, dressed in leather boots, was ill-attired for pursuit but the thighs can always do with a workout, so off I went after her!

When, finally, we rejoined Graham on the boardwalk, we sat down for possibly the worst coffee I’ve ever had.  And then we began a gentle trundle.  An out-of-season Monday morning isn’t the best time to explore many places in France, and St. Jean de Luz proved to be no exception to this rule of thumb.  But it was good to be able to see the bones of the place.  The architecture was interesting as, to me, it seemed to resemble Swiss chalets as much as anything else I’ve ever seen.  The shops were, predictably, filled with touristy stuff, but here the Basque identity was clear to see.  There are many shops selling local fabrics and spices.  As I wanted to explore further (and take photos) we found a coffee shop with tables in a sunny calm spot, where I abandoned Graham and Brin to sit quietly in the sun while I noseyed around.

St. Jean de Luz .... A beach with espadrilles to steal!
St. Jean de Luz …. A beach with espadrilles to steal!

 

After a brief sortie and with a few photos stashed in the phone I was happy to return to them and sit people-watching and so on before we went for a bite to eat.  Like us, everyone wanted to sit outside and zealously gather up what might be the last few hours of warm sunshine before winter arrived, so we counted ourselves lucky to find a convivial spot that was well frequented by locals.

This caught my eye: A shop that sells nothing but tinned fish.
This caught my eye: A shop that sells nothing but tinned fish.
Whether you're a fan of tinned mackerel, sardines and tuna, or not, I defy you not to be tempted by this gorgeous packaging!
Whether you’re a fan of tinned mackerel, sardines and tuna, or not, I defy you not to be tempted by this gorgeous packaging!

 

Temptation awaits in so many guises behind these unassuming doors!
Temptation awaits in so many guises behind these unassuming doors!

 

A little Aladdin's cave of deliciousness. So much food, and so little time!
A little Aladdin’s cave of deliciousness. So much food, and so little time!

Lunch done, it was too early to head back to Biarritz, so we agreed to noodle further down the coast and see if we could get closer to the old fort that marks the southern tip of the bay in the above photo of the bay.  True to form, country-girl was instantly happier once out of town.  I was fascinated by the road signs (un-photographed, as I was driving) …. the difference between either French or Spanish and Basque is mind-boggling.  Basque seems to bear a closer resemblance to Greek than anything else.  Once on foot, I was able to stop and think about the language – here’s a side-by-side lunch menu:

So, some items are easy to decipher, and others aren't. Road signs are a whole different story!
So, some items are easy to decipher, and others aren’t. Road signs are a whole different story!

We found the fort on the edge of town, past a pretty fishing port.

Now, this feels more like it. Boats, water and few people!
Now, this feels more like it. Boats, water and few people!  See what I mean about the chalet-style buildings?

 

Sturdy, craggy and resilient. The fort that gurads the southern end of the bay at St. Jean de Lux
Sturdy, craggy and resilient. The fort that guards the southern end of the bay at St. Jean de Luz

 

A helpful map of the area.
A helpful map of the area.
This is the blurb that accompanied the map on the quai by the fort.
This is the blurb that accompanied the map on the quai by the fort.

Finally, it was time to head back to Biarritz …. I had a pamper session booked.