We decided to settle for a few days in Biarritz, the fabulous town that became quite popular back in the 19th
century when Napoleon III would come to visit and relax. Biarritz or should we say Biar-rich or Biar-ritzy seems to have the nicest… well… just about everything - with high prices to match. We seemed to have missed the memo where one is only allowed to wear pressed white pants, a pastel shirt, and a sweater knotted about the shoulders
. We were a little in awe of the ritzy vibe here as we strolled the winding and hilly streets jammed full of high-end fashion shops and patio restaurants. We started to feel a little out of place until the one crazy lady in town walked by all disheveled and farted on me… seriously. That event neutralized the glam factor (and scarred me slightly) and we carried on our way.
We were quite pleased to find so many bakeries and chocolate shops. I think we found most of them in town, and in the name of research for Meg, we sampled all that we could. The goodies were fabulous. I actually think that Meg has some new ideas for her creations once we get back because of this.
After some sweets, we headed to the coast to see what this surf business was all about. It didn't disappoint. Although it was overcast, the walking paths and beaches were stunning. There were plenty of surfers out in the water (see picture) entertaining the masses watching from the boardwalk.
As the food culture in this area is influenced heavily by Spanish cuisine, we headed out for dinner around 8:45 to a Tapas restaurant that was bustling with locals
. We were not sure exactly what we were doing but we followed the lead of others. Tapas (for those unfamiliar) basically makes dinner into a long-social engagement with a drawn out (but pleasant) process of ordering small sample sized dishes that you and your company can graze and chat about for hours. Course after course after course… We had shrimp, some type of tempura fish, duck (again), steak, and a Mediterranean salad (that had wonderful sun-dried tomatoes by the way). Meg even had Txakoli (cha-koli), a wine from the area made from green grapes. It was somewhat reminiscent of an Ontario Riesling, nice and refreshing. With a wonderful dining experience in the books we called it a day. We had to prepare for the chocolate capital of France the next day!
Bring on Bayonne!
We headed a couple of hours south to Basque Country. It is nestled in between France and Spain and although it has some characteristics of these two respective cultures, it has a style of its own - A high-spirited one in fact as the people here identify themselves not as French or Spanish but proudly Basque. You may have seen photos of a traditional Basque game being played (Pelota) where players use a big scoop-like basket to throw a ball. Anyway, among other things, the people here are also known for embracing their sun and surf.