Thursday, 6 November 2008

bask in a Basque basque

Don't worry I'm not wearing a basque, just always wanted to write this... General happiness ensues in most cafe conversations as the impact of Obama's election victory on France is discussed at length. I wonder if American cafe culture has ever discussed, or heard of, Sarkozy? The French are excellent at cafe conversations. There is no subject taboo and within minutes a conversation can be wholly philosophical, theological and ecological. However, there is a fair amount of naval gazing, particularly on matters cultural. This probably results from a protectionist approach to culture (there was a great Time magazine article on this earlier in the year) whereby a predefined number of French movies are to be shown in national cinema and a preset number of French songs aired on radio. On one hand it does mean that artists are able to ply their trade in absolute creative freedom, but it does result in movies being made about family dinner-table conversations and lamentable songs recorded that wouldn't even make the first rounds of Eurovision.

Wonderful clouds abound as the weather can't quite decide whether or not to have a last bash at warmth before settling into winter. It was warm enough for a quick swim though and I shared the beach with a multitude of cormorants and seagulls. The season for swimming may be coming to an end as I am increasingly finding myself to be the only person daft enough to take a plunge. A plunge a day feels great though and I am enjoying my effort at understanding the tides. St Jean de Luz has fantastic flora and fauna. From the multitudes of plane trees (or platane in French)that surround the squares to the many coastal bushes that even now appear to be coming into bloom. I noticed that tree by tree the fine greenery and youthful limbs of the plane trees are being taken back in advance of winter. In their finery the trees are tranquil but shorn the trees look like multi-limbed ogres flailing their arms wildly with enormous stumps instead of hands.
Whilst out taking our afternoon promenade we found a fabulous patisserie and I have now tasted the best hot chocolate I have had in St Jean de Luz (Alex take note)! Maison Etchebaster on Rue Gambetta is lovely, a very traditional and wonderful wee place to while away a couple of hours nattering. On our way back we decided to get into our movie going and popped into Le Rex to watch Mensonges d'Etat (Body of Lies by Ridley Scott). Again another action movie (quite a good one) so easier to follow, but I was still proud to have managed. Walked home under a pretty moonlight sky. The star constellations are much the same here, just in different places. Made very warming soup using the stock from the Coq au Vin we cooked up the other night (great recommendatio Clare)and served it up with a fresh baguette, delicious.