Monday, 13 July 2009

fishy goings on in St Jean de Luz

With my wife back in St Jean de Luz this weekend was far from quiet. Our good friend Clare was also visiting again (see first ever blog entry) and we used this as an excuse to maximise every moment. The weather smiled upon us allowing a weekend largely spent outdoors.
Saturday saw a day on the beach. It is Bastille Day on Tuesday and so town was full to overflowing with second homeowners from Paris and tourists from further afield. As usual they were taking a (very) long weekend, using Monday as another 'pont' day bridging the weekend and public holiday. Our usually quiet beach was crammed with barely enough space to lay down a towel. As such we three decided it was more spacious in the sea and spent several hours swimming leisurely up and down the bay. It didn't cross our minds to worry about the security of our belongings, such is the feel good factor in St Jean de Luz. In the evening the annual Tuna Festival took place. Our friends Pascale and Bruno (together with aforementioned delightful children) kindly agreed to show us the ropes.
For the event town is wholly pedestrianised. Every available space is bedecked in long tables (each sitting around sixty). Adjacent to each set of tables, usually three or four, is a cooking area. Each of the associations from St Jean de Luz takes an area and serves up a set menu which unsurprisingly is centred around tuna, in our case with a lovely piperade Basquaise. The rugby club is next to the literary association which is next to the bakers association and so forth. Bruno selected one of his friends' areas and we were not disappointed.
There were four or five larger such areas in town; the main square, the quayside and two car parks. Each had its own stage and we were entertained by a host of Basque music while we ate. Afterwards we joined in with some Basque dancing stopping only to partake in a glass or two of patxaran or manzana. By eleven o'clock the crest of the evening's wave had passed and the erstwhile wonderfully behaved hoards of children who had helped generate a familial feel were beginning to tire. Pascale and Bruno made their exit and we three headed to a cocktail bar and managed to lose several hours deep in gossip and idle banter.
Sunday again rose with the sun high in the sky (well it was by the time we finally awoke, somewhat dehydrated). Heading to the beach we caught up with friends and I whiled away the day building sand castles and gigantic sand volcanoes - fabulous. In the evening Pascale and Bruno hosted a soiree at their lovely home in the foothills of La Rhune. We met a variety of interesting, intriguing and very pleasant people but more importantly enjoyed an opportunity to sample Pascale's amazing culinary skills. Crab breads, tuna wraps, marinated prawns, freshly baked macarons, chocolate gateau Basque to name but some. It had been another wonderous weekend in the Basque country filled with new experiences, tastes and acquaintances. Clare in particular was overjoyed at being able to live a local life in an amazing corner of the world that differs ever so slightly from central London. We even managed to avoid sunburn.
Basque of the day:- local :: bertako