I’ve just returned home from an incredible beach holiday in France with my daughters, visiting their grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousins.
The Basque fishing town of St Jean de Luz is on the west coast of France at the Spanish border, less than half an hour from Biarritz and San Sebastien. This area boasts huge waves and the surfers flock to Biarritz (FR) and Zarautz (ES)- it is the surf capital of Europe. This brings a mellow and casual beachy vibe to the town, that easy beach culture of tan skin, sunscreen and music. The air and ocean are warm and waves in St Jean are just enough to carry you gently into shore. This is Basque country, which is known for its cheese, wine, cider, chocolate & all things delicious.
The walking streets wind through the little town and we walk everywhere. The Basque style church of St Jean de Baptiste on the main walking street was built originally in the mid 1100s but underwent a rebuiling in 1660 when King Louis XIV married the Infanta of Spain, Maria Theresa. It is stunning, ornate and has a old world vibe that is actually palpable.
Every day of this holiday was perfect, the sun shining, the air and breezes warm and scented, and the evenings cool and breezy. The girls and I spent every day and night together, from our long flights there to our inevitable delay-ridden flights home. Everything about this holiday is beautiful. We used to go every August but as the girls got older and busier they weren’t really keen. This year they both wanted to go- as a family and to see family. The girls speak French and mock my limited command of the language and we all obsess about French fashion. Sigh. We stayed in the same apartment hotel as in the past, and were so happy to see our wonderful host again. The hotel is 100 years old and has a huge pelotte court so we woke up each morning to the pop pop pop of the balls hitting the walls and rackets. We read books, shopped (naturally!) laughed until we cried, lay in the sun, swam in the sea, wandered medieval streets, ate chocolate and too much baguette hot out of the oven.
Beautiful? You bet.
images: my beautiful girls, St Jean de Luz beach and sunset