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Au Pays Basque

We are in the heart of Pays Basque; Basque Country. Ce n'est pas France normal. Here, the history, culture, and unique language go back millennia – ten thousand, twenty thousand years, who knows? The towns are dotted among the foothills of the Pyrenées, connected by green pastures with sheep and cows grazing and the occasional field of corn. We are very close to Spain.

Cambo-les-Bains, where we are staying, is a thriving small town. Our hotel, complete with terrasse, overlooks an ancient street running down to the river.

It's good to have a talent of some sort, and ours is this – traveling through France, from place to place, region to region, having coffee in our room for breakfast, and, later, eating a leisurely, 3-course lunch at the best restaurant in whatever town we're visiting that day. (The best restaurant is easy to find if you know what you're looking for). Lunch always begins with a coupe de champagne

On our first morning here in Cambo, one of the pleasant towns scattered through the Basque region on the French side of the Pyrenées, we awoke to discover the weekly market unfolding just below our room, along the length of the street.

It was an easy trip down the stairs to fill our bags with the bounty of the region - bebris (sheep) cheese, luscious ripe figs, and the regional speciality cake, gateau Basque, filled with either cerise or creme. It's a delicious treasure of the region. In fact, there is a museum dedicated to it just down the road. (Apparently you're not allowed to sample the museum displays.)

Even though seeing the offerings on display at the market stalls made us regret the rudimentary cooking facilities in our hotel room, we still managed to eat well. Here are some of the things we saw today in Cambo and at the market –

–Diane & Mark

photographs copyright Mark Craft

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