Thursday, 19 September 2013

Biarittz


Our second visit to Biarritz, and thankfully much less stressful than our first visit as we knew where to park this time! We didn't get chance to walk up to the lighthouse last time so it was top of our list today. As we walked along Ruben spotted a lizard climbing a tree right in front of us:


The lighthouse! We were a bit disappointed that it had closed as we would have loved to climb the stairs-the views must be spectacular from up there.


The views were pretty spectacular from here anyway :-)


We loved looking at the rocks right out in the sea and watching the birds fly out to them.


The Pyrenees in the background.


I absolutely loved this house, I think it has been split into apartments now but how fab to have lived here when it was a house.


We walked down past the Hotel De Palais and admired its shape again. Its hard to believe that this was once a private home, but it made a great start to talking to the children about Napoleon. Its not a subject we have really discussed before so its great to be able to cover a bit of history whilst we are here. Napoleon and his wife have lots of connections in this area so its been good to connect the dots.


A church opposite the hotel, wonder if this is where they went to worship?


Building just outside the hotel, it looks much newer than the hotel but heavily influenced by the same architecture.


Having an ice cream whilst looking out to sea!


Watching the waves


And being silly, lovely to see everyone getting on so well :-)


The beautiful Art Deco Casino on the sea front.


Back to the caravan, spag bol for tea with fresh tagliatelle and French macaroons for dessert.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Bayonne



We drove past Bayonne and its twin peaked Cathedral several times whilst going to other places so it felt nice to be finally going to visit. Hubby had a bit of a nightmare with Bayonne's one way system but we managed to get parked and walked into the town. One really wonderful thing I have noticed whilst we have been in France is the small, individual boutiques and shops and much less of the huge department stores. Its a really nice change as I get really bored shopping in the same shops. Again, like previous towns we have visited whilst in France I love the bunting between all the buildings, Bayonne has a very medieval feel to it. As it was a bit drizzly when we arrived we took a tour around the beautiful cathedral. Its been lovely to compare all the different religious buildings we have been inside and the children are starting to make connections and compare the different churches and cathedrals.

We loved the stained glass windows inside, the colours were so vivid and bright despite being thousands of years old. Its really hard to be able to show it in a photograph but here goes:



I really loved the different shapes in this window.


Back out into the streets of Bayonne.



We all enjoyed walking down the streets and looking at all the different buildings and architecture, especially whilst eating fresh pan au chocolat's and cookies, mmmmm.



I love this picture because we looked at it so many times in the guidebook that it was wonderful to see it for ourselves. The twin peaks of the cathedral can be seen from so far away, its a very iconic building.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Pyrenees

We headed into the Pyrenees today as the weather was supposed to be dry. We planned to walk up La Rhune but after we had been walking only 25 minutes the heavens opened and we had to abandon our walk. All the paths up there were clay and it was so difficult to see so it wouldn't have been very safe. We did see some sweet Pottock ponies on our way back down though and the rain eased for a minute or two so we could get some photos of the view and the little train thats been running up to the top of La Rhune for over 100 years. We also saw a huge bird flying over the top of us-not sure what it was though.






Back in the car with the heaters on full blast to dry us all out whilst we ate cheese baguettes and watched the heavy rain again feeling very British.

We headed to Sare, famous for its caves or "grottos" as they are called here, but didn't stop because it was just too rainy to get out, looked very pretty though. Then we drove to Ainoha, a Bastide town that had some very old white washed houses with traditional red basque shutters. According to our guide book they used to painted with Ox blood. The houses all have the family names carved above the doors and lots of the houses/buildings were decorated with strings of red pimento peppers. We had a walk around the outside of the beautiful church, noticing how well cared for all of the graves in the churchyard were, they all had fresh flowers on them. Just outside the church was a "Pelota" court-we've seen these in nearly every village we have been in as Pelota is a very popular sport here. There's even a huge Pelota wicker glove and ball as a roundabout centerpiece!






Dodging showers in and out of the car and most of the shops were shut for lunch so we headed on to the next village-Espelette. A very pretty village which is the market centre for a breed of horses called "Pottocks"- we saw a few in a stable block sheltering from the rain. Lots of houses decorated again with the red pimento peppers too, they have a pepper festival here every October so maybe that's why? The rain came down really heavy so we had to call it a day and head back to the caravan. Another game of Super Scrabble.....


Monday, 16 September 2013

San Sebastian, Spain

Again we woke up at 9am-our usual French time-wonder if that will continue when we get home?? We left the campsite at 10.30 and drove to San Sebastian, Spain-our first family trip into Spain!! Its only 45 km from where we are staying and so it only took us an hour to get there. Was a little chaotic driving into the centre and all the car parks are underground which was a little scary after the Lourdes incident.. I think we both expected it to be quite a small place but it was HUGE so many amazing buildings, which still felt a little French?!










We had a lovely walk around the shops in the side streets and bravely went into a patisserie, knowing barely any Spanish. The lady was so friendly, which was a bit of a shock after a week of some very abrupt French shop assistants. We chose some different pastries to take out, they were wrapped so beautifully I had to take a photo! We sat and ate them outside this beautiful building-Basilica of Santa Maria-stunning.






We arrived at the wrong time really as lots of the shops were shutting for siesta and it quickly quietened down, which in a way was qyuite nice because we got to wander around the quiet streets. The smells coming from the Tapas bars were amazing, I've never had tapas but this is where I'm coming to try it when I do! It started to spit with rain, which was a shame as we found a lovely playground right in the middle of town. We walked down past the estuary and past the beautiful Hotel Maria Cristina and the Teatro Victoria Eugenia. Cordelia took some lovely photos. Even the bridges were pretty and I definitely wished we were here for longer to explore all the streets more. We had to buy an umbrella so we didn't get drenched, and headed back to the car to get our raincoats. The rain got really heavy but we had the most beautiful walk around the sea front.









Cordelia, bless her, for no reason other than her hormones, started crying and just couldn't stop. She had lots of hugs and reassurances from us but for the 1 1/2-2 hours we walked around in the rain, tears just streamed down her face. We must have looked so strange, badly dressed in flip flops (me!) with one daughter crying for no apparent reason and three more children looking all quite bemused/upset by it all. I definitely will never forget being here that's for sure. Maybe she was overcome by the beauty of the place? Its seems ironic really to be in such a beautiful place and be so sad..

Still the walk around the sea front was beautiful, the waves were crashing against the rocks and looked so frothy and white despite the deep blue of the water. Lots of men were fishing too, despite the weather! We headed back to the car, all feeling a little emotionally exhausted. A really wonderful place though that we'd love to return to one day (for tapas!)







A quick trip to the supermarket on the way home and the most delicious Basque cake for after tea, looked like a huge muffin with blueberries inside-delicious! Games of Monopoly millionaire and Super Scrabble too :-)