After a few days at the beach, I am ready for a break. Hossegor is the perfect place for a curious traveler, because it offers a fantastic range of day trips. We can go hiking in the Pyrenées, visiting quaint Basque villages like Espelette, or Sares. Or we can head south for tapas at the very relaxed, food obsessed Saint Sébastien, Spain. Or even further south for a day of culture and fine art at the Guggenheim in Bilbao. There is the glitzy beach town of Biarritz along the way, the naturally wild Guéthary, and my personal favorite, the very historic and exceptionally picturesque St Jean de Luz.
This is where Louis XIV married the infante Marie Thérèse in 1660. The houses where each stayed awaiting the royal event still tower over the main square at the port. 350 years ago, the baker Monsieur Adam provided macarons for the festivities. These cookies bore little resemblance to the macarons you get in Paris today. They are flat little cookies, without cream and you can try them yourself, because the Maison Adam is still making them today.
When Adam was baking his cookies, and the king was wedding his queen, this was an active fishing port, and despite the tourism, it is still an active port today. Many of the boats boast a traditional Basque decor, with red and green trim, and the Basque flag waving proud in in the marine breeze. Several are so beautiful that they have been named historical monuments.
Another treat are the Muxu cookies at the bakery Pariès, which also has an exceptional gateau Basque and some traditional tourron. Parisiens love these treats so much that Pariès is heading north and will be opening up shop at 9bis rue St Placide in the 6th this fall. I am not sure I like the idea of their delicious, buttery cakes being so close to home. It is very bad news for my ligne.
The church is also worth a visit, with a very traditional Basque decor. This means there is a very large, impressive wooden boat suspended from the ceiling. And if you’re very lucky, they’ll be performing traditional Basque singing on the night you’re in town.
After an afternoon visiting, and shopping and snacking, we head to the beach for a quick swim before going to dinner. Here too, the choices are impressive; Chez Koko, just behind the local Halles, has fantastic tapas, while Chez Maya offers traditional Basque fare that has earned them a Michelin star. Tonight, we opt for Zoko Moko. I like the name and the food is fantastic. Traditional Basque with a modern, but not quite molecularly tortured twist. Even without taking notes, I remember discovering Ajo Blanco and the unique combination of roasted lobster on a bed of mandolin sliced peaches. Mr French’s pigeon confit was delicious and the desert were just as good.
We headed “home” truly savouring our holidays.