Saturday, 15 November 2008

tidal waves and gateau smiles

A beautiful morning so we got up early and headed for the beach. While the cold had snapped hard in St Jean de Luz yesterday, today the sun fought back with gusto and we enjoyed warmth. Our timing enabled us to go beachcombing as the tide was out and the oyster fisherman in. We even managed to walk out to the large Digue Ste Barbe one of three large defensive walls built in Napoleonic times to protect the main bay from the Atlantic. Although we were at the end of the digue at lowest tide we could still feel the power of the Atlantic as waves crashed into the outer wall and sprayed up and over us. We remained only a few minutes but by the time we were walking back towards the cliffs the tide was coming in fast and the weather starting to change. This is a dangerous place and I'll think twice before walking out there again!

Returning to town Maria had a craving for paella. We found a small and modest restaurant on the main 'place' and settled into a large terrine of seafood, chicken and saffron rice - delicious! Given that Scotland were playing South Africa at rugby this afternoon we decided to head home, but not before we stopped at a patisserie to buy a lovely Gateau Basque - if you've never tried it, do! Besides my challenge to find the perfect hot chocolate, I am also tasking myself unenviably, with seeking out the perfect Gateau Basque. The match was excellent and Scotland nearly won, a recurring theme...

Around 1700 clouds started to creep down La Rhune with a menace of less amiable weather to come. Simultaneously the main pedestrian street, Rue Gambetta, started to fill with promenaders. The French are wonderful at promenading and take it very seriously. It felt as though all of the town was out and enjoying Saturday evening. Multitudes of couples walked up and down the street inner arms linked, outer arms either carrying shopping or a dog - what is it with the whole carrying your dog thing? The cafes soon filled up too, as French sophisticates determined to sit outdoors enjoy warm beverages and cigarettes whilst lovestruck teenagers brave the cold and cuddle up on benches.

Still full from our paella (this town is even more excellent if you enjoy fish) we passed on dinner and headed out on our regular Saturday night bar walk (we gave up crawling long ago).