Wednesday, October 7, 2009


My friend Vanessa and I quickly discovered that our French vacation was turning into what could have been the best honeymoon ever. Unfortunately for us, our relationship doesn't fall in that category, so we decided to classify it as research instead. We'll each just have to return someday and share it with that lucky person.

The highlight of the trip for me was definitely the town of St. Jean-de-Luz. It's a small village on the Atlantic coast, just off the Spanish border, and it literally exudes romance. You're surrounded by happy couples of all ages and it's hard not to picture yourself walking along the beach at sunset with that special someone.

We'd never heard of the city before and only stopped by based on a recommendation from our couchsurfing friend. It was obvious that it's not a well known destination for Americans. The majority of other tourists were definitely French & Spanish citizens and I get the feeling they'd love to keep this fantastic secret to themselves. I've been to quite a few towns along the Mediterranean coast, but this surpassed them all by far.

It's part of a grouping of 4 villages tucked very closely together with a coastal trail connecting all of them- somewhat similar to Cinque Terre, in Italy. The views along the path are breathtaking and vary widely between sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and crystal clear waters. Around each bend there's yet another perfect spot for a picnic, a private swim, an impromptu photo shoot, or whatever suits your fancy.

St. Jean-de-Luz falls within the region called the Pays Basque which, among other things, is known for its amazing food. We definitely took advantage of that during our stay. There's a farmer's market every day where you can try their famous Ossau Iraty cheese, (We really should have smuggled some home. I discovered that it costs up to $60/lb. here in the US!) black cherry jam, peppers, and the fantastic hake fish. By accident, we stumbled across Piper Beltz restaurant and enjoyed what we both considered to be our favorite meal in France (EVER!). We decided to try all the local specialities and they blew us away- Gambas Roti (grilled shrimp), Merlu (hake fish), and Tarte Tatins to top the whole thing off. I rarely clean my plate completely and despite how full I was, I practically licked the crumbs off the dish.

It's not a bad way to spend your days- a nice hike in the morning, a swim in the ocean to cool off, picnic with food fresh from the farmer's market, sketching and napping on the beach, a fantastic dinner, and then finishing the day off by listening to the waves crash in as the sun sets. It's the sort of life I could get used to.

We only got to spend 2 days there and it wasn't nearly enough time. I suppose it's better that way if this was a research trip, though. There are plenty of things still left to discover next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment