Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Biarritz, gateway to Spain

When I was leaving the B&B in Mimizan this morning, I spoke to the owner, Mme Perez, who seems to be at least 75 or 80. We saw when we arrived last night that her husband was immobile, obviously very sick. She explained that he has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for the last 5 years, that he no longer walked or spoke, but that she wanted to keep him with her for as long as possible. She also explained that she had lost her 42-year-old son to cancer. Yet she was noble and stoic, when I offered my condolences, she simply shrugged and said, “c’est ca la vie”. It’s a lesson for all of us.

Tonight we are Biarritz, almost at the most southwesterly point of France (there are palm trees!). It is in the Pyrénées Atlantiques department and is popular with tourists and surfers. For most of the last 150 years it’s been a very glamorous place, beautiful beaches, high-end hotels, villas and mansions, many of which speak of days gone by. The terrain is hilly, with beautiful views, and nice cycling, often along the ocean. We are very near Spain (Biarritz is a Basque name), and the Spanish influence is very evident, from the architecture, to the restaurants, to the signs in French and Spanish, and to the people, many of who consider themselves as Basque, no matter what country they life in.
The Main Beach

You could be in Spain!

Amid the beauty are constant reminders of a more violent past; every village has its memorial, Mort pour la France, with a long list of names from WWI, and a shorter list from WWII. In Biarritz there is a memorial to the deported. A sad reminder.

Tonight we are staying at an Ibis Budget, everything you really need, but just what you need for 42 Euros, basic, but tough to beat. We ate in Bayonne, next to Biarritz, in a typical Basque Cidrerie, where there is a fixed menu, starting with a cod omelet, then grouper, then roast beef cooked Basque style, followed by Brebis cheese and walnuts, with all the cider you can drink, quite the feast, and absolutely delicious, not to mention intoxicating.

The 17th century street in Bayonne where our Cidrerie is located
The Cidrerie TTIPIA

We are going to sleep well tonight.

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