December is already upon us, In Aquitaine too!
    Dishes, delicacies and other delights to brighten up the winter. We mustn’t forget New Year’s Eve, of course, when we head off to the mountains to enjoy the fresh air of the Pyrenees!

    A Christmas theme

     

     

    I. A Letter to Father Christmas
    Father Christmas loves all children, whether they are little angels or rascals. He likes to answer all the letters that children send him and to send back an affectionate note. Ever up-to-date, Father Christmas even has his own website in Aquitaine.
    Father Christmas
    chef.lutin@laposte.net
    www.laposte.fr/pere-noel

    II. An authentic festive experience
    There are many festivals in the run-up to Christmas, against a backdrop of white fir trees and eternal snow. The winter solstice is celebrated as befits tradition, with high points including singing, nativity plays and plenty of opportunity to taste local delicacies and tasty home-made treats. 

    Here are some gatherings you shouldn’t miss out on.

    :: Lo Halha de Nadau in Gascony
    They set alight ‘lo Halha de Nadau’ (the Christmas sheaf) made of straw and maize leaves, then walk around the farm holding it in their hand in order to chase away evil spirits and to ensure good harvests.
    This Gascony tradition is animated by songs, delicious treats and mulled wine. Each year there is a torchlight parade with fifes and drums.




    > Bazas on December 11.
    > Monfort-en-Chalosse on December 24.
    > Saint-Sever on December 24.

    :: Olentzero in the Basque country
    Olentzero, so the Basque legend goes, is the coalman who lives in the mountains. Once a year, just before Christmas, he passes through towns and villages handing out logs so that no one suffers from the cold at Christmas. Even today, Olentzero, mounted on a pottok (small wild Basque horse), goes from door to door and gives out sweets and treats to children, who then accompany him on his way.
    > Bayonne on December 17.
    > Hendaye on December 24.
    > Sare on December 17.

    :: Towns lit up to the colour of Christmas
    The magic of Christmas You’ll love strolling through the Christmas markets with their wooden chalets and fairy lights, while the arts & crafts, delicacies and festive produce will give a new twist to the good old Christmas stocking. There’s plenty of excitement all round!
    > Agen, from 6 December to 4 January.
    > Arcachon, from 10 December to 2 January.
    > Bayonne, 2nd to 31 December.
    > Bordeaux, from 25 November to 26 December.
    > Pau, from 25 November to 31 December.
    > Périgueux, from 3th to 31 December.
    Sarlat, from 7th to 31 December.

    Marché de noël à Bordeaux

    Bordeaux’s Christmas Market

    New Year awaits us all

     

     

    It’ll soon be the 31st! Here are some ideas for getting out to end the year in style. Also check out our favourite accommodation choices for a New Year’s Eve getaway. Fancy trying something truly unusual? Then head off for a fleeting visit to a wonderful hotel with its blue-toned atmosphere … spend the night in an igloo.

    Menu ideas to bring out the best in Aquitaine’s produce

    The Aquitaine Agri-Food Promotion Agency (Aapra) is full of succulent suggestions for your festive season meal. Each idea is more original than the last to tantalise your guests’ taste buds.
    Oysterplant from the Arcachon basin on a bed of yuzu shallot compote and Medoc granary carpaccio.
    Grignols capon ballotine and fresh foie gras with soft polenta, sweet and sour tomato juice.
    Yule log with Périgord chestnuts and Agen prunes.

    And if you’re short of time, here are some suggestions to delight your taste buds and share a wonderful moment together.

    In Dordogne – Périgord

    In Gironde
    A range of suggestions for you to discover on the website of the departmental tourism committee..

    In the Landes

    In Lot-and-Garonne

    In the Béarn

    In the Basque country

    Celebrate in style!
     
    Lustre à pampilles ©JC Monin

    ©JC Monin

    Fancy the mountains? Head for the Pyrenees!

     

    The cold is upon us and is giving a great kick start to the winter sports season. The ski resorts and the Northern areas of the Pyrenees are open. We invite you to look at their websites :

    Artouste: Have plenty of fun and chill out with your family or friends.
    www.ossau-pyrenees.com

    Gourette: A friendly atmosphere and well-being.
    www.gourette.com

    Issarbe: Medium-range mountains and enchanting landscapes.
    www.lapierrestmartin.com

    La Pierre Saint-Martin: A fun resort. You want more? It has a disabled label.
    www.lapierrestmartin.com

    Le Somport: It’s perfect for anyone who loves snowshoeing and Nordic skiing.
    www.lesomport.com

    Iraty: A peaceful Basque village and oodles of hiking trails.
    www.chalets-iraty.com

    >> For more information, why not take a look at the Pyrénées-Atlantiques tourist committee website, www.neige64.com.

    >> See also N’PY website: ski passes, accomodation, good deals…
    www.n-py.com

    Resorts are moving: move with them!.
    A host of sports events and festivities are laid on in Gourette and Pierre Saint Martin, for the young and young-at-heart, during the week and at the weekend, from mid-December to mid-April.

    As well as the skiing area and services for disabled clients, this year you can go on a skidoser outing, go mountain biking on the snow, take a Nordic bath or have a go at snake gliss, interlocking sledges which snake for a descent like no other…

    Sports events and festivities include the Winter Fest in January in La Pierre Saint-Martin, and Gourette with its snow-covered « Istery Blanche » obstacle trail on 21 January 2017, the Telemark on 28 and 29 January and the Pyrénéa Triathlon on 2 April 2017.

    After effort comes comfort, of course!
    Here we refuel on home-made garbure, a local dish that’s somewhere between soup and stew, duck confit from the nearby Landes and local mountain specialities like ham from Bayonne and Ossau-Iraty, ewe’s cheese.
    While on an authentic roll, you can also take in some traditional music and singing as you sip on mulled wine in a shepherd’s hut. Or listen to the legends of the Béarn mountains.

     

     

    Snowshoeing in the forest of Iraty - Pyrénées ©Les Chalets d'Iraty

    Snowshoeing in the forest of Iraty – Pyrénées ©Les Chalets d’Iraty

    As of 1 January 2016, the Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes regions are now only one! Also discover tourism opportunities in