Friday, 18 December 2009

free wine in St Jean de Luz

At Christmas-time the many choirs of St Jean de Luz wander the streets in Basque costume singing traditional seasonal folk songs. My excellent choir, basically twelve blokes who like to drink but also sing brilliantly, are starting in Biarritz at 4pm tomorrow and then back to St Jean de Luz for the evening session. The choirs are amateur but receive payment in kind. We tend to stop and sing outside preferred chocolatiers, patisseries and restaurants. As such we receive fresh chocolates, macarons and glasses of wine. We cheat, the patron of Maison Adam sings with us so we are guaranteed fine fare.
It will be the first time I have worn Basque costume: mountain shoes (black boots that lace up the leg); thick white socks; dark trousers tucked into socks; white top; rough woollen dark overcoat; dark Basque beret. The songs sung in Basque at Christmas are very different from those I am used to. I had hoped it would be the usual carols using music I know but with words translated. Not so. The songs are very local and tell of snowy mountains, family and of course love of a beautiful women (a traditional Basque theme).
Heavy snow has fallen overnight on the surrounding mountains. The mighty La Rhune that stands proudly at the end of the Pyrenees staring out at the Atlantic has turned white. The cold is set to last. My wife finally returns home tomorrow after six months in London so I hope the airport stays open.
Basque of the day:- snow :: elur