• Our area,  Things to do

    The Bayonne Ham Festival

    A few weeks ago, we came across the Bayonne Ham Festival during another one of our many DYI store trips to the French Basque capital. It became evident that something big was happening in town when we saw cars parked all over the roundabouts, miles before we got anywhere near the centre. When we finally reached the banks of the river Nive, we understood why. Dating back to 1462 (yes, that’s right!), Bayonne Ham Fair takes places every year during the Easter weekend. Over 30 local producers compete in showcasing their produce. Three different elements — pigs bred for meaty, muscly back legs, a rich diet of grains and nuts…

  • Day trips,  Our area,  Things to do

    Autumn in the Pyrenees Atlantiques

    As the nights are drawing closer and the smell of burning wood lingers in the air, one knows that autumn is truly here. And although the changing colours of the trees and the crackling sound of broken leaves under feet delight people everywhere in the world, there is a lot to be said about the bucolic peace and sense of wonder one will encounter on a walk through the many quiet roads that criss-cross our region. From the village of Jasses, just outside the fortified village of Navarrenx, we took a country lane that lead us through copper-coloured forest. Half an hour later, we left the forest behind and stepped…

  • Biarritz,  Day trips

    Day trip to Biarritz

    Alongside the beaches of Portugal and, of course, Cornwall and Devon, the South Western coast of France is a well-known European surfing spot since 1957, when the American writer Peter Viertel decided to open a surf club in Biarritz, thus bringing this sport to Europe. Surfing is such an integral part of life of the people of Biarritz that it is given as an option to students for their baccalaureate exams. But Biarritz is not only about the surfing. It has been the destination of choice for the rich and famous since 1854 when Napoleon III and his Spanish wife Eugenie, chose Biarritz as a summer residence. Since then, it…

  • Events,  Pau,  Things to do

    Grand Prixs de Pau

    Since moving to our new home in France last year in November, we’ve hardly had the chance to experience more than the daily life. As many people who move abroad with a project in mind would tell you, renovating a house is an all-consuming affair. And when you are also responsible for 10 chickens, 5 goats, a cat and a dog, you count yourself lucky if you manage to grab a coffee at the local bar once a week. So when we heard about a famous event taking place less than an hour’s drive, we decided to treat ourselves. Grand Prixs de Pau is an event with tradition, dating back…

  • Daily life,  Salies de Bearn,  Things to do

    Market day in Salies the Bearn

    Probably one of my favourite markets so far is the Thursday morning market in Salies de Bearn. If it’s a day with sunshine, I can’t think of a better place to spend a couple of leisurely hours. I love it because it has an Indian food stall, lots of delicious cheese and pates and vegetables, but also an overpriced antique seller and various other goodies. We usually end up buying some fruit and the odd piece of cheese, but I find it a nice place to hang around for coffee at one of the restaurants / coffee shops and mingle with the locals.              …

  • Day trips,  Our area,  Salies de Bearn,  Things to do,  Walking routes

    The old railway walk from Escos to Salies de Bearn

    A short drive from our house in Autevielle towards the village of Escos, there is a voie verte: a pedestrian/cyclist only route built on the old railway line. You can take a right as you come off our street towards Escos either in your car or on your bike. Stop just before you enter the village of Escos and park, before you join (on foot or on your bike) the voie verte that will take you directly to the spa town of Salies de Bearn within half an hour (if you’re cycling) or an hour and a half if you’re walking. The road is paved and lined by trees on either side.…

  • Navarrenx,  Our area,  Our journey

    The best or the worst decision of our life?

      Leaving Biarritz meant the end of our mini-holiday. From now on, real life awaited. We picked-up an automatic rental car at the airport and drove to our new home, where we would meet the current (about to become previous) owners and the estate agents, for a visit before signing the papers. Torrential rain started just as we left the airport and it hadn’t eased out at all along the way. But we made it and the property was as great as we remembered it when we saw it in February, even as we caked our shoes with mud walking around it. Bernadette, the owner, took me on a goat…

  • Biarritz,  Our journey

    A new life begins

    I am sat at the table Alistair made from a wood plank that he had varnished himself and to which he had attached copper steel legs: the same one that dominated the kitchen in our flat in Streatham. Now it looks like a miniature in comparison with the vast space of the open plan first floor of the barn that it is now our home in the South West of France. Outside in front of me, there is nothing but nature. A river (Le Saison) is flowing through our land and the only other house we can barely see through the branches of the trees that line up the river…