Showing posts with label Hendaye. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hendaye. Show all posts

Sunday, June 24, 2012

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!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Night of Music in France

Music in the French Streets! Why not here?
June 21st, Thursday
More pics here

We had a very agreeable surprise on our last night in France. While walking to local Chez Kake, we noticed quite a few stages set up and indeed by the time we reached the restaurant, music was already being played close by.

Checked and were told this is the French Fête de la Musique which has been going on since 1982 and which has spread to dozens of countries. Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets. Many free concerts are organized, making all genres of music accessible to the public. More here
Guns leave their marks

There was a terrific buzz around the streets with adults and kids out checking the various bands. 

Irish gig in Hondaribbia
After an excellent meal, we checked out some nearby venues and, within less than 100 metres, found a terrific Cuban band, a band playing The Band’s music and another group doing songs by The Doors. Great stuff and not an ounce of trouble. Maybe we Irish could copy this one!

On one of our first days here, we had taken the short boat trip (€1.70) across the Bidasoa River to Hondarribia in Spain. Did the same on a low key last day as we wanted to see their unusual riverside airport.

That we did, and we also had a closer look at the luxurious Government parador in the town, to see the pock marks made by the cannon balls back in 16th century when it was a chateau.

This is quite a lovely town and its Calle Mayor was used in the opening shots of the 1973 film Papillon (starring Steve McQueen).

Monday, June 18, 2012

A packed beach as temps soar in Hendaye

Hendaye beach and below the bay at the other side of a dividing "finger" of land.
More pics here

A packed beach as temps soar in Hendaye
Sunday June 17th

The sun was a bit late in coming to Hendaye this Sunday but once arrived, around noon, the temperatures soared and the beach soon got packed. You could hardly find a place to sit down as tout le monde, or so it seemed, turned up in the little French border town. Spent a few hours on the sand and I reckon it was the most packed beach I’ve ever been on.

Earlier, while the weather was dull and so much cooler, we took advantage to drive into Spain to the lovely little coastal town of Getaria intending to fulfil a promise to walk the coastal path from there to neighbour Zarautz, about 5.5 kilometres (approximately).

The fact that the sun wasn't out in the early part of the walk, indeed for most of the walk, took from the lovely coastal scenery as the track, adjoining the winding road (but well protected) and suspended over the sea, wove in and out following the contours of the coast.

There were hundreds out: singles, doubles, families and all kinds of small groups. It seemed to be the thing to do. Of course, you may turn back halfway if you wish. But, it being nice and reasonably cool, we made it to Zarautz and then headed back to Getaria and the sun came out as we approached the end.

Now we are back from the beach, after a refreshing dip in the pool, looking forward to dinner from the local traiteur (Axoa, minced beef in a local pepper sauce) and to a good game later in the Euros. Tough going, isn’t it?
Getaria (Spain) at end of the walk while Zarautz (below) was under cloud when we left it less than 40 minutes earlier.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wine with a head, The Twins, a Dubliner’s Chateau

Hendaye marina

Hanging hams at La Pinta

Stuffed peppers. Lovely!

The wine with a head!

The Green Lizard

The Chateau

The Twins

Wine with a head, The Twins, a Dubliner’s Chateau

More pics here

Spent much of Monday in the local Hendaye area. There are some magnificent coastal walks here, some of them going on and on and on. We confined ourselves to one, largely in the grounds of Chateau Abbadia.

Facing the Atlantic, it is now owned by the French Academy of Sciences and was originally built between 1864 and 1879 by Eugene Viollet le Duc, for Antoine Thomson d'Abbadie d'Arrast, born in Dublin (1810) to an Irish mother and Basque father.

You may visit the chateau itself but with the weather being so fine, we stayed outdoors and got some terrific views: back over Hendaye and its beach and across to Hondarribia on the Spanish side. There are two rocks, small seastacks, associated with Hendaye. You may see them from the beach and they appear in postcards and tourist literature and we got a close-up of The Twins and also terrific views up the coast towards and beyond St Jean Du Luz.

It wasn't just the views. There are many wildflowers to be seen and we also spotted a magnificent green lizard, about 12 inches long. On the way back, we spent some time on the beach.

Monday evening sees quite a few of the local restaurants closed so our choices were limited but we had no hesitation about going back to Serge Blanco’s La Pinta. The menu is formidable here and you can pick and choose from also over the place, though we confined ourselves to the €18.00 menu, which gave us quite a good deal of choice over the three courses.

Also tried a couple of glasses of the Txakoli, the local wine. It is a slightly sparkling, very dry white wine with high acidity and is poured from shoulder height into sturdy drinking glasses (as they do here also with cider), producing something of a “head” and, of course, more bubbles, in the glass. Goes well with the food here for sure.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hendaye, a beautiful place at the edge of France

Monday 28th May 2012
More photos from this trip here
Hendaye beach, with the "Twins", the rocks in background

Walk by the Bidasoa River in Hendaye

Hondarabbia, in Spain, just across the river

Pouring the rose

Jambon with melon, 1st course

Mixed salad, 1st course   

Chicken, 2nd course

Ommelete, 2nd course

Blackcurrant Ice-cream, dessert course
Above, all at the Ipar Haizea, this three course lunch, inc. glass of wine, cost €12.00. Coffee was €1.20 extra.

Mussells, with a Basque sauce

Moules mariniere


At Santa Maria restaurant near the beach in Hendaye, in the evening, the mussles (available with six different sauces), cost €12.00 per person. The crepe was three euro while a 250ml carafe of local basque cider cost €2.80.

We spent the first day getting to know Hendaye, its beautiful bay and beach. The town is basically in two parts, the main town and the beach town where our apartment is located. The beach and port are minutes away and the railway station close enough also. We walked along by the bay to the station to get to know the place and to check the times for the narrow gauge railway service to San Sebastian.

Must say, with this gorgeous weather, the bay of Hendaye, with the foothills of the Pyrenees in the background, is one of the most beautiful places I've ever come across. Spain is just minutes away across the River Bidassoa. Did a fair bit of walking today and fully deserved the late afternoon dip in the pool!