We wake up early after a short night and hit the road in search of a place that serves a decent breakfast. We end up at a place that has a decent breakfast, but at a price that is far above reasonable. But because of the way they advertise their options, we don’t find out until it is too late and pay € 15 for two small breakfasts. Alas…
St. Jean de Luz
Following the coast as much as possible, we drive to San Sebastian. In Spain, dogs aren’t allowed on the beaches, so we can’t take Molly out for a run. We visit San Sebastian and find it not to our taste. The city is nice enough, but for us, it lacks the wonder of Bayonne and Biarritz.
Therefore, we do not stay long. We leave the coast and head inland. Through tiny roads and lots of bends, we exit Spain and return to France. And thus we arrive at Espelette. A small village that is well known for its “piment d’Espelette”.
Piment is french for chilli pepper. In and around Espelette, they grow a local variety which they sell dried and cut very small. One of the merchants explains that they dry the chillies in a special process. They aren’t 100% dry, but something like 70%. Then they chop them up really small without turning them into powder.
They add a certain spiciness to food, but they also have a real taste of their own. Which gets lost if you leave it out in the sun, or if you allow it to heat. So you don’t add it to your food until the very end, i.e. when it is already on your plate. After his friendly and passionate explanation, we buy a jar from him. And even go back later to buy more for friends and family.
The village of Espelette
Espelette lives off of tourists. It has many shops where they sell piment and other local products. Basque fabrics for example. I entered a boutique that sells those fabrics, and products made with them. Espadilles for example. I remember always having a pair of espadrilles as a child. Back then, they didn’t have rubber under the soles (made of rope) as they do now. So one walk in the rain or even just a puddle was enough to ruin them.
The woman in the store explains to me that espadrilles were made here in the border territory and worn by smugglers, because they enabled them to walk without a sound. Which is practical when you want to cross the border unseen and unheard I guess.
We make a tour of the town. It’s rather nice. Very well cared for with lots of terraces where people are relaxing in the shade. But, like all tourist places, everything is very expensive. So we just look without buying anything else. It would be nice to buy for example some dishcloths, but at € 13 or more a piece, we can live without them.
Satisfied after two intense days with loads of new experiences, we return home to Tostat. As soon as we open the gate, Dusty and Keira (the cats) come out and greet us. And demand food, which we promptly provide them.