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Monday, December 10, 2012


Ascain is a tiny village on the way to St. Jean de Luz. We stopped to visit Le Confit de Ascain, which actually has a bigger web presence than a physical presence.

You can purchase cans or jars of foie gras of differing grades, duck confit and other gourmet items. You are allowed to bring home foie gras as long as it is in a sealed container  but you have to check the box that says you're bringing home food. Or, just order online and pay the shipping and you don't have to declare it on your customs form and risk a potential delay. 

From the US Customs and Borders Protection Website:
As a general rule - if goods are cooked and in shelf-stable (does not require refrigeration) packaging such as cans or other hermetically sealed containers AND they are not from a country affected with various diseases such as Avian influenza, Mad Cow disease, Swine Fever, Exotic Newcastle Disease, etc., they may be admissible.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

La Rhune

On the way out of Sare is La Rhune. It's the terminus for a wooden, cog-railway that takes you up 1000 feet to the top of the mountain. It's a 35-minute ride up the mountain, moving at a rate of 8 km/hour. Take the train up and hike the 2 hours back down. At the top of the mountain, there is a roadside restaurant. The train runs from March 19 to Nov 2 and costs €17 roundtrip/€14 one way July/August.and €15/€11 the rest of the season. It opens at 8:30 but if you go in the summer, get there early to avoid the crowds.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012


Sare was the next stop. It's another "les plus beaux villages de France." It was cute but I wouldn't go out of my way to visit it.

Basque cemetery next to the Eglise Saint Martin. The tombs are well maintained but it's high density.

Hiking trails connecting local villages

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Ur Hegian

We had just left Ainhoa and were starving. On the road to Sare, we saw a lot of cars in a parking lot and stopped. Boy, did we luck out. It turned out to be a restaurant that was serving paella.

We saw people drinking sangria and ordered some. It came in an "ice bag" to keep it cool. The sangria was cool, refreshing and yummy and cost €10. Just the right amount of fruit juice and no bitterness.

This was paella for 4 people--€14/person. It was delicious. It was loaded with shrimp, langostines, mussels, clams, chicken and lamb chops. We could have ordered 2 servings and fed the 4 of us.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012


Less than 4 miles away was Ainhoa. This is listed as one of "les plus beaux villages de France"--one of the beautiful villages of France. We weren't impressed. We were hoping to have lunch here but didn't find much.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012


We followed D918 north to Espelette, the red pepper village. Since we were there in October, the town was full of garlands of these red peppers, hanging out to dry. We were also there on Wednesday--Market Day. The market closes at 1 pm.

  2012 Silver Medal winner--€4.50 per 50 g bottle.

The town was adorable--compact and easy to walk around.

Lemon tart--€1.80 for so much work.

Cherry Gateau Basque--moist on the inside and so delicious.

Young pepper plant

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

St. Etienne de Baigorry

St. Etienne de Baigorry was just 11 km from St. Jean Pied-de-Port. Just before entering the town is Cave d'Irouleguy, France's smallest appellation at just over 500 acres.

 Every town has a church. Basque churches are two-tiered, with wooden balconies where the men sit. They are "closer to God" while the women sit below, standing guard over the family's tombstone.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Harrup eta Klik, St. Jean Pied de Port

While we were walking the wall in St. Jean Pied de Port, we saw a lot of diners at Harrup eta Klik.

The "menu" was 3 courses--soup or salad, Basque chicken with potatoes and Gateau Basque.

Since this was a cider house, we tried the cider. We were not big fans.

The soup was chicken noodle--tasted like Knorr's

Basque chicken with potatoes--this was not an exciting dish. It was as if they had run out of the dish and grilled a chicken quarter and slapped some tomatoes on top.

Gateau Basque--this was probably the best part of the meal. The cake was moist and filled with a marzipan mixture in the center.

Some of us opted for the Axoa de porc--a pork stew made with peppers. This was tasty but would have  been better served over something that absorbed the sauce. This dish was €10.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

St. Jean Pied de Port

St. Jean Pied de Port is located in France, just 8 km from the Spanish border. This was the last stop before the pilgrims crossed the Pyrenees.

Macaron shop

The old wall that rings the town.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012


We drove through Roncesvalles on our way to St. Jean Pied du Port. It's located just 8 km from the French border and is a favorite stop for the pilgrims hiking the Camino de Santiago. It's the first place to rest after crossing the Pyrenees.

Only 790 km to Santiago de Compostela

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