Thursday, 6 June 2013

Basque country: in the footsteps of the Sun King

How to resist the attraction of a region that claims to have invented des bains de mer? This allegation worthy of a small check, I'm flying to Biarritz. Pity that the direct connection is neglected departing from Geneva: transit through Paris or then arise in Bordeaux and add 2 h 20 from road to reach the seaside once popularized by Napoleon III and Eugénie, in the middle of the 19th century. Because this is, in fact - and under the leadership of these two historical figures - born enthusiasm for sand and salt water. The Biarrotes saw then landed a caste aristos and Eggheads - Théophile Gautier, Stendhal, Victor Hugo - to which the bourgeoisie hastened to follow suit. The place became trend, as it looks today. I choose Sofitel Miramar for its central location and its Thalassotherapy deemed, launched here in its time by the champion cyclist Louison Bobet.

Well-being at the beach...

Fortunately - and this is not the least of their merits - some elected regional representatives took to heart, since the 1990s, to include the city in a protected area of architectural, urban and landscape heritage, safeguarding more than 800 villas and private residences. To discover, I decided to stroll through this sometimes outdated photogenic decor. Follow me to 65 seconds of immersion-video!

"Taste at least our artisan chocolates, since you're Switzerland!" throws me a saleswoman at the storefront of his candy. It is true that some local designers have hoisted the specialty at the top of the greedy charts. But I crack instead for a few macarons, the typical delicacy of the basque country.

This tidbit was founded in 1660 by the Adam home for the King.

Biarritz suffered a reputation as a bit old-fashioned. An impression than the 34% of inhabitants at the age of retirement may leave during the week. But just to wait the weekend for landing of Bordeaux, Landais, Toulouse and other Madrid put fire to the trendy bars of the city, as the old prejudices. Each will tell you: what we like here above all - apart from the ball - it's partying.

Two steps are presented as essential: Pamplona, first of all, and the famous San-Firmin, celebrated by Hemingway in "the Sun also rises". From 6 to 15 July, it is an entire community who drinks, eats, sings and dances each night to recover from the emotions of the release of the bulls through the streets of the city. The first Wednesday of August, Bayonne celebrates King Léon for 5 days: choirs Basque, players of rugby and bullfights galore (for lovers). Plan to dress in white - all white - with a red scarf tied around the neck or waist!

An ideal setting for golf.

As long as to do, why not step push up the neighbouring Luz ? A Council: land before the tourists, at the blessed time where the place is still deserted, except by traders busy to redesign their storefronts, the glaciers to clean their terraces under the cries of seagulls mocking.

A real film set!

Aromas of bakery and first gurgle of coffee percolators. The image corresponds to the postcards exposed at the storefront of the media relay. Share with me these privileged moments... 65 seconds of video to put you in the bath:

Here, too, thalasso lovers are very caring. The Loreamar du Grand Hotel offers spa bonus his surprising decorum, has nothing of clinic!

An atmosphere conducive to relaxation.

If Luz is a must stop on the itinerary of the Pyrénées - Atlantiques, is that it has what flatter all the senses. The eye is seduced by the picturesque of the decor, the nostrils by sea spray, mouth by the flavors of a generous land, fingers by the softness of the Basque fabrics. As to the ear, it asks only to be surprised by a few chords of trikitixa, one of the most popular forms of local folklore, usually a diatonic accordion and tambourine.

Do not forget to make his choice: sneakers are a local speciality!

I am facing the beautiful house in turrets built in 1643 by a wealthy shipowner (today occupied, on the ground, by a bistro named "The Switzerland", though nobody seems to know why). Come sign the Treaty of the Pyrenees 17 years later, the young Louis XIV stayed there a few weeks before marrying in the nearby church the Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain.

A ceremony that marked the history of Saint Jean de Luz.

On the sidelines of its historical wealth and its cultural interest, Luz offers its guests everything that they can expect a trip dedicated to the welfare and well-eat.

Map from made Ocean Restaurant share beautiful products of the sea.

Guestbook Grand Hotel is full of compliments from celebrities or anonymous, delighted to have been able to afford a dream bracket. I crossed some Thalassotherapy Institute, on the beach or the back of a bicycle ride. Their blown mine back to those of the courtiers of the Sun King, no doubt dazzled - at their time already - privileged hangin' in an enchanting setting. Even a small portion of basque cake for the road?

According to some recipes, it is prepared with the cherry jam.

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