The Pilgrimage, Cheese and wine in the mountains, and Biarritz….

Just in case you haven’t seen it (and if you are interested), I have added another page to our blog called ‘Wine’. It contains a list of some of the more ‘choice’ wine that we have found so far and a brief description. We will be updating it as we find new wines either in Vineyards or Supermarkets – the idea being that if we put them on there we liked them enough that we will be trying to get hold of them when we get back, so we thought we would share our research with you 🙂

After leaving Bordeaux we travelled south to a small village called Maslacq which is situated on the ‘Sentier de Saint Compestello’ – the pilgrimage that travels through France and down into Spain, ending in Santiago de Compestello. It is approximately 1500 km and there are thousands of people who walk it (or part of it) every year. The place we selected to stay recently opened their doors to accept walkers as a ‘Chambre d’hôte and Table d’hôte’ whilst also joining the France Passion book for ‘Camping Cars’. They have 40 hectares of land and are a farm producing Corn, Yellow Kiwis and Duck produce, unfortunately they have had a run of bad luck over the last few years with both their corn and Kiwi’s not growing so they thought they would diversify and try tourism….. The new business is going very well but their roots are still in farming, so last year they also planted a hectare of ‘baby kiwi’ which will hopefully start producing fruit in 2016 …. A bit of a way off. We had never heard of baby kiwi’s before, but apparently they are the new ‘trend’ – they are about the size of baby plum tomatoes and sweeter than the normal kiwi.

The evening meal was relaxed and spent with the family starting with some homemade duck and spicy pepper pâté and rillet with an enormous salad, sausages and rice for main and pears, ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert – apart from the starters it wasn’t what we would have ordered in a restaurant – but it was all local farm produce (apart from the rice) and delicious and including wine cost us 13 euros a head – really can’t complain. The conversation was enjoyable and we met some interesting people, both the owners of the Chambre d’ hôte as well as the pilgrims.

We popped in to buy some pate as we said our goodbyes and set off to our next stop ….. cheese farm … ok sheep and cows, but they make Thom (of sheep or cow variety), which is a round hard cheese which is delicious. The setting of the farm (once we found it…. Don’t you love sat nav?) was fantastic – with the hills rolling for miles around us. Despite the rain we set off to explore, coming back to wine, cheese, meats and bread …. What more you could want 🙂

Cheese_20141009

There is something about this area of France / Spain – ‘The Basque Country’, apart from the fact that all the names of the towns and villages start to contain more consonants than vowels and lots of X’s, Ch’s and Z’s – the houses / farms are all white with a rust red edging and shutters – it is very pretty.

Biarritz – 10/10 – 12/10

We arrived into Biarritz late morning and headed to the post office to pick up the Spanish equivalent of ‘France Passion’ which we had asked to be sent to the Poste Restante in Biarritz. A service that I remember using years ago when I travelled through South East Asia to stay in contact with people as internet wasn’t as readily available back then … how things have progressed .… although you now have to pay to receive items at a poste restante whereas I am sure they used to be free.

We parked up on an ‘Aire’ which is 2.5km south of the centre of Biarritz on the coast. They aren’t very pretty places (this one felt like it was in the middle of a roundabout, but was actually just one road away from the beach), have minimal facilities if any, but they suit the purpose, you can normally only stay for 24 or 48 hours and are generally reasonably cheap (this one was 12 euros a night).

The sea was exactly how we like it ….. rough and a little bit wild 🙂 – I know probably sounds odd to most of you, but there is something incredibly relaxing about waves crashing over rocks ….

Biarritz2_20141011

My morning runs were fantastic – despite the hills, the fresh sea air and stunning views of waves crashing down in front of the mountains was almost perfect. The town itself was a bit of a mix between bond street and Newquay…some very chique boutiques and restaurants ….. and a few kiss me quick hats :). Unfortunately, the coastal views were slightly spoilt as it is quite built up with a fair number of apartment blocks and hotels on the seafront – we aren’t sure if we would come back, but it was definitely worth stopping for a couple of nights and I am sure if you were a surfer it would be one of the places on your list.

We left Biarritz after the obligatory Sunday morning pancakes on the bar b q with the sun shining and a clear view of the mountains which we hadn’t been able to see for the last few days and say ‘Goodbye’ to France for now … we will be back in 2015 when we travel through southern France to get to Italy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s