to the Pyrenees for white-water rafting in mountain torrents, or to Anglet on the coast for adrenaline-pumping surfing in the powerful Atlantic waves. Then follow the crowd to a big barrel where the txotx pronounced choachmaster pulls a pin and cider comes flying at you. Sunset on the La Grande Plage beach, Biarritz. You catch what you want to drink, one gulp or two. Rounded leather gloves called pasaka or laxoa used for games of pelote, the Pays Basques answer to squashcan be bought in Frances only workshop of its kind in Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Folk dancing and singing are still part of local life: in the southern region dance displays often recount stories of giants and knights. . Pink, sandstone an-Pied-de-Port sits near the southern stretch of the. Grab a gilda to start (anchovy, pickled guindilla peppers, and olives a warm code promo site le temps des cerises croissant with jamn iberico, and ask for a crab tartlet. Little has changed over hundreds of years although some outside influences like mini-malls, mega stores and fast food chains are a growing grease stain on the Basque cultural fabric.
Two places to try are Zapiain, for the great cider and familial ambiance, or Zelaia, for their excellent txuleta, or dry-aged steak. About ten minutes from San Sebastian are the towns of Astigarraga and Hernani, where youll find the real deal: sidreras that press their apples in October and release their 5-6 percent ABV sidra in January for drinking straight from the kupelas, or huge barriques. Bread accompanies smoky idiazabal sheeps cheese in most inland restaurants. The most famous place in the Basque Country at the moment is Asador Etxebarri, which sits an an hour drive from San Sebastian and 45 minutes from Bilbao. Active Pursuits in Biarritz, try for a hole-in-one at Biarritzs 18-hole golf course, which has views over the Bay of Biscay on one side and the towns terracotta rooftops on the other. Most traditionally Basque sports evolved out of activities on the baserri, or farm, though the Basques have been very competitive in more conventional sporting activities such as soccer and cycling. Youll see everything from an abandoned nuclear power plant at Lemoniz to tiny villages that rely entirely on the sea for their livelihood, such as Ondarroa. Photo by: Michael Magers Take the scenic route. Mizpira, a hunting knife with a steel blade and hard, wooden handle. Espelette, home to the spicy chilli pepper of the same name. Biarritz has been a seaside resort since Empress Eugenie fell in love with the Pays Basque and built a palace on the seafronttodays Hôtel du Palais. .