Monday, 14 January 2013

200. Let them eat cake..

11th January 2012. As we seemed to have shaken off the worst of the flu bug we'd had over the Christmas period we decided to go out this afternoon for our first walk of the New Year around Biarritz. As usual, the intensity of the light seemed to crank itself up a notch or two as we drove through Biarritz's winding streets towards the sea. A few minutes later we were walking along the sea front and we did what pensioners do best - we found a seat in the sun!☺ 
Place Bellevue
We couldn't take our eyes off the compelling display of towering waves that were rearing up and crashing in thundering explosions of dazzling white foam against the rocks. It was difficult to estimate the size of the breakers but I'd put the highest of them up around 4-5 metres high. There were a few hardy surfers out there mixing it with the choppy waves, but the conditions didn't look ideal for surfing to my untutored eye.
After a while the dog became impatient for some action and so he led us along the front to the Place Saint-Eugénie before we turned back to walk up through town via the Rue Mazagran to the Place Bellevue where we stopped at the newly opened extension of the temple to the art of the pâtissier and legendary tea room (salon de thé sounds better!) - the Miremont (above) - that faces the sea.
If you're going to stop somewhere in Biarritz in the late afternoon for a cup of tea or coffee, there isn't anywhere better. Then there are the cakes.. I'm not normally a great cake eater but I have to admit that these are pretty special:
A favourite watering hole for us in the centre of Biarritz is the well-situated Royalty in the Place Clémenceau - ideal for people-watching.

Another is the 1930s Art Deco Hôtel Plaza - which is ideally situated to watch the to-ing and fro-ing of daily life outside - or, in the case of adverse weather, there's a very comfortable bar and lounge inside. There's often a cool jazz trio/quartet who play here too. Madame gives the Plaza top marks for its hot chocolate by the way!  

14th January 2013. Across the border into Spain for a quick shopping raid at Venta Peio, Dancharia. As we climbed the mountains on the way there, one or two of the peaks were dusted with snow, like icing sugar. Arriving at the almost empty car park, in contrast to the hectic crowd scenes witnessed there in the build-up to Christmas, we virtually had the place to ourselves - and standing in the Spirits section, I was close to being hypnotised by four long shelves groaning with many of the finest available Scotch whiskies, including more than a few gems such as Talisker and a cask-strength Glenfarclas. I've said it before but there's a lifetime's study waiting here!

Here's the late George Harrison with a little known version of an old song (c1931) originally recorded by Cab Calloway..          
Guaranteed to have you humming it all day!


POW16783 said...

Pleased to hear you are well enough for a trip out and am really envious of the sea view and not the cakes.
Bon annee ;-)

Pipérade said...

Meilleurs voeux for 2013 to you too!
The view of the sea was only bettered by the cakes!☺ They have to be tried at least once in your life..! The sea was pretty special though.

Lesley said...

We have just booked our early May hols. nr Sauveterre-de-Béarn and have started to 'bookmark' some of these places. Lac d'Estaing for the dog and a few cafés in Biarritz for us grownups. Keep 'em coming plese.

Pipérade said...

While you're at the lac d'Estaing try and work it so that you can stop off at Gabas for lunch at the Hôtel-Restaurant-Bar « Chez Vignau »
It doesn't look much from the outside and ignore the fact there's no choice in the menu.. Trust me!
We were talking the other day about places that have never let us down and two sprung to mind: Pantxua at Socoa (try their fixed price lunch) ( and the Hotel du Parc at Ascain (
Bon app!

Pipérade said...

@ Lesley -
I wrote that restaurant at Gabas up here:
It's definitely worth the detour..☺

Lesley said...

It was that post that put the Lac d'E on my map as a dog-friendly- looking-kinda place. It will be a good day out for us all.