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UNCOVERING THE RICH CULINARY DELIGHTS AND BEAUTY OF THE BASQUE HINTERLAND

Updated: May 2





Let me take you on a journey that will awaken your senses and ignite your adventurous spirit. My wife and I recently embarked on a day trip that will be etched in our memories as a symphony of flavors, colors, and authentic encounters. Our journey began in Biarritz, this gem of the Atlantic, where the gentle scent of the ocean mingles with the tempting aromas of local bakeries.


We hit the road towards Sare, a village nestled in the lush folds of the Pyrenees. It was there that we discovered a sparkling beverage that tantalized our taste buds: Euskola. Picture the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola, but with a Basque twist that turns every sip into a celebration of local traditions. And as if this discovery wasn't exquisite enough, we also had the pleasure of indulging in a Basque cake, a pastry filled with cream or cherry that embodies the sweet life of this beautiful region.






Our journey then took us to Ainhoa, an unexpected stop that turned out to be a culinary revelation. At Ithurria Cote Bistrot, we indulged in a lunch that delighted our taste buds. Each dish was an ode to the simplicity and richness of local produce.





Also classified among the most beautiful villages of France, Ainhoa is best explored on foot. On either side of the main street, a row of typical Basque half-timbered houses in red and white line the streets, characteristic of the Labourd region. We took the time to wander, looking up at the sky to admire these beautiful buildings, most of which date back to the 17th century. The village was designed as a provisioning stop for pilgrims on the Way of Saint James, with a main street and shops on the ground floor.



Ainhoa
Ainhoa

Leaving Ainhoa, we spontaneously decided to detour through the village of Ahetze. Nestled in a lush green setting, this little gem of the Basque Country welcomed us with the promise of a peaceful break away from the tourist hustle and bustle. We were charmed by the Saint-Martin church, its bell tower proudly rising above the traditional houses. As we strolled, we encountered local artisans who proudly shared their craftsmanship, including a woodworker sculpting makilas, those Basque walking sticks that are much more than mere accessories: they are true works of art. This impromptu stop added an authentic touch to our journey and reminded us that the most beautiful discoveries are often the ones we don't plan.




The next part of our adventure took us to Espelette, famous for its namesake pepper. We wandered through the charming streets of this village, where each house seems to tell a story. At Patchamama, spices from around the world, we were dazzled by the diversity of aromas that greeted us. We took the opportunity to replenish our pantry with spices typical of the region. And at Ezpeletako Izarra, we met passionate artisans who cultivate Espelette pepper with unmatched love and respect for their land.



Field of Espelette pepper
Champs de piments à Espelette

After leaving Espelette, we drove through fields of peppers, a sea of red and green stretching as far as the eye could see. The beauty of the terraced crops, bathed in the afternoon sun, was breathtaking. We rolled down the windows to let in the fresh air of the Pyrenees, carrying with it the spicy scent of the peppers.


Basque pigs

Our journey then led us to Les Aldudes, a valley where nature reigns supreme and Basque traditions are proudly preserved. It was here that we met the artisans at Pierre Oteiza's, a man whose passion for his heritage runs as deep as the roots of the centuries-old oaks that populate his land. Pierre Oteiza reintroduced the Basque pig or "porc basque," a breed once on the brink of extinction, and the staff on site enthusiastically recounted how this man breathed new life into this tradition.



Pierre Oteiza dans les Altudes
Boutique de Pierre Oteiza

We savored the Kintoa DOP ham, a treasure trove of smoky and salty flavors, and the Jésus sausage, authentic and rich in taste. What an incredible culinary experience! Gilles, the friendly owner of our local cheese shop, La Fromagerie Atwater, was the one who pointed us towards this Basque treasure. (Our first instinct upon returning to Canada was to make a stop at our cheese shop to stock up on Kintoa and Jésus from Pierre Oteiza!)



Petit train de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

As late afternoon descended upon us, we reached Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a village that seemed to have been sculpted from stone by time itself. The cobbled streets wound their way between ancient buildings, while the surrounding mountains provided a spectacular backdrop.


Hand in hand, we strolled, admiring the fortifications that bore witness to a rich history.

As the sun began its descent towards the horizon, we made our way back to Biarritz. The sky was tinged with shades of orange and purple, a magnificent spectacle seemingly celebrating the end of our day. Sceneries passed by, each curve revealing a new wonder, each hill reminding us of the majesty of this land.


We journeyed back with light hearts and minds filled with unforgettable memories. This day in the French Basque countryside was not just a getaway; it was a journey through history, culture, and flavors of a region that has so much to offer.


Sunset in Bidart
Sunset on the Basque coast

As we returned to Bidart, the last rays of the sun embraced the horizon, transforming the sky into a living canvas, a painting where every shade of color seemed to tell a part of our adventure. This day was more than just an escape; it was a journey to the depths of our souls, a quest for beauty and authenticity that reminded us why we love the Basque Country so much.


We shared moments that will be etched into our memories, suspended in time where it seemed to pause, allowing us to appreciate the splendor of nature and the warmth of human connections. We tasted the richness of a proud and welcoming culture, and witnessed traditions carried on with passion and dedication.


As we returned to our hotel on the coast, we knew these memories would become stories to tell, experiences to share with you, our friends, in the hope of inspiring you to embark on your own journey. With TOURIS, we invite you to discover these magical places, to create your own narratives, and to experience tourism in all its splendor.


The Basque Country is not just a destination; it's an invitation to live experiences, a call to explore and marvel. We hope our story has given you a glimpse of what you can live and feel in this extraordinary region.


Until next time for new adventures,


FoodieNomad for the TOURIS team


Unforgettable Experiences Await You.



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