Saturday, November 7, 2015

Biarritz, France: les halles

The Atlantic Ocean is the first ocean I ever saw in my life, it is the first ocean I ever dipped my feet into, it's where I saw the statue of liberty for the first time when I was about 6 years old, sitting in the dunes and my dad told me to look closely and I would see it on the horizon, in short: other contintes might also border on nice oceans, but there is only one Atlantic ocean.

Now, if on a maritime scale, the Atlantic Ocean is the mother of all oceans, my point of reference, the same holds true for the French cuisine when I think about my culinary point of reference.
Birritz in that sense offers both reference points on a golden platter. The incredible, wild Atlantic and the halles of Biarritz, a true foodie paradise.

Thanks to my mother, I knew that there would be a night market around les halles on Wednesday and it turned out the perfect way for me to eat myself through a variety of local produce.

Piggy looked a little sad, maybe it knew that on the other side of the market stall, cornets of ham were for sale...

A variety of finger food, like foie gras burgers for 5 Euros were on display (unfortunately with truffle oil, how dare one ruin foie gras with truffle oil?)

On regular days - every day - the market hall is open from 7:30 to 13:30, and the perfect way to start your day in Biarritz is to go there to shop for breakfast and a beach picknick. In my case, that would always include a pain aux raisins, a local yoghurt, two different kinds of brebis, a baguette grand siècle, some tomatoes, apricots and mirabelles, what more do you need?

I don't believe in God, but cheeses is my saviour!


If you don't find the time (or the car) to go to Espelette, you can also buy a variety of Piment d'Espelette in the market hall, together with other locally sourced products that make a good souvenir. 

Ocean + awesome food = happiness!

copyright of all photos j.

Monday, October 26, 2015


Espellete is basically 20 houses of which two are hotels, two are restaurant, and the rest are little stores that sell what the village is famous for: Piment d'Espellette!

The village is about 40 minutes by car from Biarritz which means if you don't have a car, you are pretty much out of luck - unless ... your parents happen to be on vacation in the same region and happily agree to be your chauffeur!

Espellette is cute, but there really isn't a whole lot to do besides shop for piment. The question of course is: where do you buy it? The answer is: I don't know. Maybe it helps to imagine that all piment is probably manufactured in the same place and then filled into glasses and jars of individual vendors, so all you have to do is choose your favorite label! At least this soothing fantasy helped me overcome my FOFOMO (Foodie fear of missing out) and just choose whichever! The piment is quite spicy, so I have to be gentle when using it in my kitchen. 

Though I would always prefer the ocean front, this little excursion to the Basque backcountry was really worth it, also for the tiny Brocante we went to, the breakfast we had at this totally unpretentious, super cheap brasserie (that turned out to serve home made yoghurt for breakfast?!? That would never happen in Germany *liftingFranceevenhigheronmyglorifyingpedestal*) and the trip to the ocean (oops) in the afternoon.

copyright of all photos j.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hiking along the Basque coast

After my hikes through Bretagne last summer, even this year, I wanted to include some hiking in my summer vacation. I had asked the local office du tourisme for advice via email, and they sent me a pdf with a hike along the sentier littoral - exactly what I was looking for!

The hike leads you along the coast all the way to Saint Jean de Luz and you come across half a dozen of beautiful beaches along the way so bring your bikini! As you will stop by some really awesome viewpoints, I recommend you also pack a picknick for breakfast. The hike itself is a constant up and down (geographically speaking), so you better not have any knee issues, haha! 

In my next life, I want to be reborn as this clothes line ... what do I have to do in order to build up the Kharma for that?

So, besides Biarritz, Saint Jean de Luz is another very popular fisher village that has been transformed into a busteling tourist destination. In many guide books, it is said to be a lot nicer than Biarritz, something I can't understand at all. I admit I only spent about 2 hours there, but what I saw was ok, not more not less. Sure, the houses feel mor Côte Basque with their traditional architecture, but it felt very touristy. And, helllooo, how can you tame the wild Atlantic ocean by building wave breakers  in the bay??? I mean sure, the many families on the beach sure liked the idea of letting their little children into the water that looked more like the Mediterranean, but hey, if that is what you are looking for, then why don't you just go there instead?

Don't you just have to like this drawig at the lifeguard-post? Speaking of lifeguards, in the life after my reincarnation as the clothes line, I would like to be reborn as Mitch (that is the Baywatch-word for lifeguard)! I mean, all lifeguards have to do is stare at the ocean, which is basically all I ever do during my vacations which means that my job would feel like one long vacation! I mean it's a good thing that they have so little to do, but on the other hand ... isn't that quite an uneventful job? (and, on a side note, is there some secret law that says that lifeguards may look good from behind, but have to have ugly, dumb faces?).

I had also packed a picknick for lunch, but there are several really nice beach restaurants along the way, serving local specialites with a spectacular view at what you would say are quite moderate prices.

Ah, the joy of enjyoing a hearty picknick after a couple of hours of hiking!

copyright of all photos j.