After a 4 hour drive from Sarlat, we have arrived in western corner of France bordering on and separated by the Pyrenees Mountains from Spain. Since Paleolithic times, it has been home to a group of fiercely nationalistic folks -- with the nation being the Basque Country and has been the scene of much national conflict since the French Revolution. You history folks (and you art folks since Picasso memorialized it in one of his most famous works) will recall Franco’s collusion with the Germans in the bombing of Guernica in 1937. While we were here, the big news was that the Basque separatists finally denounced violence in their campaign for independence; Basque names are on all signs. Us -- we’re just here for the food!
And we’re here to revel in being some of the tallest people on the street. Folks have to look up to me and Bob is practically an NBA player (minus the jump shot).
Our hotel is about a kilometer uphill from the main part of the town of Biarritz, necessitating a bit of trudging. It has been recently renovated; room interiors are completely white (well, except for the floors -- carpet is light grey) in a sort of IKEA meets French minimalism way. Breakfast is one of the best, wifi is one of the speediest, staff is among the most helpful. And there is a self-service launderette and post office nearby so we have been able to have our final cultural experience with a French washing machine and have been able to mail a final package of accumulated “stuff” home.
We spent much of the rest of laundry day walking around Biarritz, an Oceanside resort area made famous by Napoleon II’s wife, Eugenie. It is still very popular as a British vacation spot, and, on the day we went exploring, was the site of a surfing competition -- yup, Basque surfer dudes! But not even Gidget would appreciate the size of the waves as you can see in one of our photos. In addition of Eugenie’s influence on the architecture of the place, there are lot of Art Deco buildings to admire.
We took a field trip to St. Jean de Luz, another seaside “town” that, on first appearances, seemed to be Glen Ellyn on steroids but, once we got to the old town area, was a colorful and quaint seaside port with a lot of interesting shops and fish restaurants. Unfortunately, our linen quota was filled in Provence, so we could not take advantage of the Basque linen tradition (all cloth has 7 stripes for the 7 provinces in Basque country). Fortunately, we had not yet filled our “eat fish for lunch” quota and, so, enjoyed a fishy lunch outside in the slightly cool air next to the ocean.