Fêtes and games typical of Basque country and the Landes
Colours, joyful shouting, singing and music, at a game of pelote in the Basque country or bull races in the Landes. It’s well worth taking in the sights and sounds of pelote balls and the torero’s pirouettes, up against a fighting bull.
:: Racing in the Landes
A traditional sport in west Gascogne, the typical Landes races are held all over the Landes, in Chalosse, Tursan and Armagnac. The animals are not injured or killed, and may take part for up to a dozen years. Races often take place during local fêtes; the most popular are in Dax and Mont de Marsan.
:: Basque strong-man competitions
Originally a farm hobby, Basque strong-man competitions have retained their rural, family atmosphere. They draw on daily field work: lifting stones and bales of straw, carts, cutting wood, but this time for the fun of it! Many Basque strong-man festivals are held in July and August, in the Soule and Basse-Navarre Valleys. Go to www.tourisme64.com.
Le Festival de force basque takes place every year in Saint Palais, on the first Sunday after 15 August.
:: Basque pelota
This is a game played from toddlerhood, either with bare hands or cesta punta, in all Basque villages featuring a prominent pediment. A really popular sport which has been exported all over the world. It derives from tennis!
The Bayonne Basque Museum has a permanent exhibition on pelote.
Taste bud festival: Assiettes de pays® and other delicacies
Sampling a platter of local specialities, known as Assiette de Pays, is a great way to find out about local produce in a friendly setting. L’Assiette de Pays is a single dish washed down with a glass of wine – and it caters to all budgets!
Take out time to savour a flavoursome break in the Landesor Lot-et-Garonne.
:: For those with a sweet tooth
Périgord walnuts are available for tasting at the Périgord walnut eco-museum in Castelnaud-la-Chapelle.
Plums : These « Black gold » nuggets from Lot-et-Garonne can be tried out at the Plum Museum and farm in Laffite-sur-Lot.
Canelé are little cakes with a crunchy crust and a soft centre La Maison Baillardran are reputed to be the specialists for this Bordeaux delight.
Macaroons are made with almonds, sugar and egg-white. In Aquitaine, the Maison Blanchez in Saint-Emilion and the Maison Adam in Saint-Jean-de-Luz (founded in the 17th century) are the best reputed vendors.
Cabécou du Périgord is a locally produced soft goat’s cheese, then there’s the cheese made from ewe’s milk in the Pyrenees. There’s even an Ossau-Iraty cheese route to sample different versions!
ambience and local produce: we mentioned the various markets in last week’s newsletter: Sun all through the summer: local markets . An opportunity to get some delicacies as edible souvenirs to share with friends.