Bye Bye France and Spain for 2012!

Bonne nuit à la belle France 2012. And Spain too! 
My Hendaye base: appartment & pool
La Rioja day trip
Rabbit, from the traiteur
Marina at Hendaye

Really enjoyed my four weeks in the Basque Country this year. I was based in the French border town of Hendaye and that gave me the opportunity to make many trips into Spain. Hendaye is a major rail junction and the local tourist office sells bus trips to Basque towns both in France and in Spain.

One of those bus trips, to San Sebastian, fell through because of a driver error. But the Tourist Office really stepped in quickly and got us to San Sebastian by train. The bus company (Le Basque Bondissant) moved quickly as well by refunding the fare and then gave us a choice of a trip from their catalogue.

We had previously been looking at the Bilbao one (which included admission to the Guggenheim) and that was agreed with Sandrine in their St Jean du Luz office. So well done to Sandrine and indeed to each and everyone we met at the Hendaye Tourist office. Thank you all.

I think that any tourist arriving in any French town should make straight for the tourist office. You’ll be surprised at the amount of information available.

If you have a family, you’ll probably want to locate the nearest hypermarket, but family or not, you should also make the Traiteur a target. The traiteur, often the butcher, offers delicious prepared dishes, sometimes local and national classics. All you have to do is take them “home” and re-heat. And you’ll end up with a top notch meal for about a third of the restaurant price.

The local market is another great source of food and indeed some of the traiteurs turn up there as well. Normally, your accommodation provider will give you a list of market days but, if not, head to that tourist office.

So there you have it, my three tips for happy holidays in France: Tourist Office, Traiteur, and local market. Of course a little bit of advance research and a few words of the language will also help!

Good accommodation also helps. For the past few years, we have researched our own gites or apartments. This time we stayed at an apartment within a large villa right in the middle of Hendaye-Plage, minutes from the beach, the beautiful bay, the marina and the little ferry crossing to Spain, yards from the bus stop (free buses around town), and a few minutes also from the big train station.

Newly built, the apartment was top class with a state of the art kitchen and a lovely shared pool. In all, there were five apartments in the building but no problems arose because of that. No problems at all.

Happy holidays!