Thursday, 21 May 2009

ascension day in St Jean de Luz

Today is Ascension Day which means St Jean de Luz is on holiday (holy day) to celebrate accordingly. L'eglise Saint Jean Baptiste was standing room only this morning for the ten o'clock service. The mass also celebrated 100 years of the local l'Arin choir (newly found competitors to my outfit) who sang quite beautifully, a very grown up choir. I continued my learning about Catholic traditions and decorum. For the last few weeks the pere has been taking a break midway through the service and walking down the main aisle splashing water on the congregation using a branch of some sort. I am sure it all means something profound and should really ask somebody. Given our now regular attendance and given we tend to sit in the same pew we have befriended a local Basque chap with whom we discuss news from the town in broken French/Basque.

After the service we arranged to meet our friend Francois-Xavier to take coffee in Place Louis XIV. Given it was nearing midday we opted for Ricard, marvellous. Walking down Rue Gambetta afterwards we decided that it would be impolite not to have lunch so headed for a delicious cous-cous of lamb and merguez before jumping head first into a large helping of gateaux chocolate. This was of course washed down with a couple of glasses of vin rouge, again manners must. By the time we were replete the sun was high in the sky and the myriad of tourists crowding the streets. In search of some tranquility we walked out to the point at Sainte Barbe and watched the waves breaking in from the Atlantic. It was now time for coffee so we went in search of our local Cafe Vauban before returning to the apartment to continue our lengthy conversation which by now had covered Catholic ritual, Basque mythology, the French view on current UK politics (which was interesting) and local flora and fauna.

Around five pm we waved goodbye to FX, all in agreement that today had been a good day. He is a lovely chap from a family deep rooted in these parts. We have arranged to catch up again on Saturday when he is dancing Flamenco at the Festival of Four Cultures in neighbouring Ciboure. We don't know what the festival is all about but do know that it is the first of a dozen or so very social festivals that take place over the coming months. People in these parts are not shy about having fun.

Basque of the day:- festival :: jaialdi