It’s summer, school’s out, time to explore, have a nap, go to festivals and go rambling. The local quality and authenticity focus « bien chez nous, bien de chez nous » showcases our region as it really is, from festivities to quaint villages, local flavours, arts & crafts.
    Traditions ring true 😉

    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.

    Feel free to join in the Fêtes de Bayonne from 27 to 31 July 2016 or the Fêtes de Dax from 11 to 15 August 2016.

    :: 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.

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    Take a look at the Landes racing museum, in Bascons, outside Armagnac, or la Ganaderia de Buros , for an unforgettable experience of this culture, with a playful, original approach.

     

    :: 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.

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    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!

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    The Bayonne Basque Museum has a permanent exhibition on pelote.

    Partie de chistera (pelote) basque et fronton.

    Basque pelota (chistera), Cambo-les-Bains ©Alban GILBERT / CRTA

     

    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.

    :: Cheese-wise
    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!

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    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.

    Marché de Beaumont - Dordogne (24).

    Market in Beaumont, Dordogne ©Laurent Reiz / CRTA

     

    The stone festival, well-preserved heritage

     

    :: 17 of the « most beautiful villages in France » are in Aquitaine
    The villages listed above all have the « most beautiful village in France label ». They simply ooze quaint charm and atmosphere.
    – Dordogne : Belvès, Beynac-et-Cazenac, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, Domme, La Roque-Gageac, Limeuil, Monpazier, Saint-Amand-de-Coly, Saint-Jean-de-Côle, Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère
    – Lot-et-Garonne : Monflanquin, Pujols-le-Haut
    – Pyrenées-Atlantiques : Aïnhoa, La Bastide-Clairence , Navarrenx, Sare and the latest addition, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a well-known pilgrim stopover on the Way of St James.

    Idea
    Our ‘Itineraries’ section will take you to the most beautiful villages in the Basque country, and Périgord as well as the bastides, the « new towns » of the Middle Ages.

    :: Olde worlde elegance
    Marquèze, the Grande Lande ecomuseum
    In the heart of the Landes pine forest, there’s a lush green clearing (called an airial in the local dialect) ringed with ancient oaks and scattered with half-timbered houses and white-washed mud brick houses. These are often bedecked with wisteria and vines, exuding appealing simplicity. A tour gives an insightful glimpse of how the locals used to live. During the summer, « Itinéraires d’animations » celebrates farm work: harvesting, threshing rye, pine-tapping and spinning flax

    Ortillopitz, a Basque etxe in Sare
    The Maison Basque or etxe (pronounced étché) is typical of Basque villages. It underpinned the social and family system, and was passed on to the first-born son. One of the finest, Ortillopitz, can be visited in Sare. It’s an authentic Basque house where locals recount their customs.

    Shepherd in Marquèze, Landes © B. Fiszpan / CRTA

    Shepherd in Marquèze, Landes © B. Fiszpan / CRTA

    Gifts: our emblematic savoir-faire

     

      • Sandals have their capital in Mauléon. Espadrilles have been made there for over 150 years.
      • The French beret actually hails from Béarn. Oloron-Sainte-Marie is the capital.
      • Basque weaves are traditional but can be given a modern twist. 4 manufacturers: Artiga, Lartigue, Moutet and OnaTiss
      • Nontron knives, have been crafted in this little village in Dordogne since the 15th century.

     

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