Sunday, October 31, 2010

A walk around Lac de Cristus

In the beginning of the week we went here for a stroll around the lake in St-Paul-lès-Dax. A bike race was running through the parc, weather was sunny and nice.... (and we had hamburgers at Quick... not my choice but two out of three were happy...)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cute Labenne animal parc

We went to the Labenne animal parc, a cute family style place, with my friend Karine and her children. Not too big, nicely surrounded by trees and best of all, you can buy a big bag of popcorn at the entrance and feed all the animals except the turtles! It took us about an hour to see everything and then we spent another hour at the playground... all this in a sunny 20 degrees.... life is sweet.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Villa Arnaga, welcome to Versailles in the Basque country

 Something is wrong with this picture. Here we are, in the basque back yard, in front of a basque exterior. But the garden makes me think of Versailles and once you step into the house you could be in a Parisian palace...

Edmond Rostand created the Villa Arnaga and this garden. He came to  Cambo-les-Bains in 1900 to cure a lung problem. For the exterior he followed the Basque customs, in new-basque style, but the the garden and the interior are designed in classic French style. (In case you don't know;  Rostand is the guy who wrote the famous piece Cyrano de Bergerac).

The children loved the garden and found the house beautiful. We spent more time outdoors than indoors, but in the house - now a museum - they liked the paintings in the budoir, the childrens room with illustrations to known childrens' songs and the trap door... unfortunately it was forbidden to take any photos inside the house.

The whole entrace alley was lined with beautiful faned hortensias. Must be spectacular when they are blooming!

Looks totally Basque. Go inside and see the beautiful stone walls, the iron sculpted handrail, the set wooden parquet, the light and the volumes... and the hand painted wall decorations.... pure luxury.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rhune, breathtaking three star view

The Rhune is the highest point in Aquitaine with its 905 metres above sea level. It is one of the most visited spots and far from a tourist trap. The view from the top is rated three stars by the Guide Michelin. You get it I think, a compulsory visit!

I went there a couple of years ago, but the children don't even remember anymore. I also wanted to go there again with a good camera... When I turned off the highway heading towards Ascain we had already seen the top from quite a distance. The landscape is rather flat, comparingly, around it, so it grows upon you as you move closer. Impressing...

First of all you should know that you can walk up this mountain. A three hour walk up 700 metres. I plan to do that someday...

But we took the traditional cog railway option. The children love this traditional train that slowly takes you up the winding road.

When I bought the tickets I got candy for the kids... strange I thougth before I realised it was for the ears! I felt the difference in altitude so it was a good thing.

On the way up we had lots of time to look at the pottoks, the small mountain horses that roam freely....

... and some sheep...

... an eagle! said Clara. You see it? And to be honest I'm not sure what it is, but it was big so more probably a vulture.... You see alot of these mighty birds up here.

So here comes the train up to the top. 

First surprise. That tiny little stick you see on top of the mountain at a distance. Close it is huge!

Second surprise is that the air is a little thinner... the first minutes up here we felt it, then we got used to it. But we didn't stay long enough to get used to the panorama. Here you see Clara looking out on the ocean side... a small stripe of clouds made the horizon milky.

If you want to get a snack or something to drink, there are three places to choose from. And you can also buy some cheap cigarettes or alcohol in this taxfree area!

We had planned to have our picnic up here but ended up eating the sandwiches while we were waiting for the train. But we had dessert in a magnificent place....

Sorry one more pottok picture but the light was so beautiful when we went down again....

Bye bye little train....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mushroom hunting in our garden


The children wanted to go looking for mushrooms today. I was sitting in the sun with my coffee and feeling a bit lazy... but thinking again, those rains during the weekend, shouldn't they give us some mushrooms now?

We have a corner in the garden where we usually find ceps but nothing... then Clara yelled: look across the street, what a giant mushroom! She thought it looked funny, but it was a beautiful parasol mushroom, a delicacy that can reach 30 cm in height. We started looking for those and found seven beautiful ones, unluckily for us three of them on the neighbor side. Using only the hats I fried them in butter and oil and served on toast.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sweet October day at Pyla, Arcachon....

Almost 30 degrees the whole weekend... an incredible Saturday (with my husband working with the barbecue) ending with boeuf de Chalosse on the plancha and a lukewarm evening on the terrace... really felt like high summer time.

We spent Sunday around Arcachon. First lunch in Arcachon and then - my daughter has been asking for this whole summer - we went to Dune de Pyla again. The skies were grey but this place is still amazing....

First lunch at Café de la Plage. Oysters of course!

And the traditional sausage to accompany the oysters. At least that is what they do here in Arcachon.

I had a lovely whole dorade.

This is the place.

You can have just a drink too.

The beach in front of the restaurant, in between the two piers where the sightseeing boats take off.

My husband gazing out over the sea.

Kids were swimming!!! Adults too.

Here we are at the top of Dune de Pyla in Pyla-sur-Mer. The most visited tourist attraction in Gironde, well worth the trip.

The sky was grey but at times the sun shone through.

What a play area! But also adults were rolling down the sandy hill, running like crazy, jumping to make spectacular photos....

Here comes the sun. Only lasted a short while but wow....

The trees down there looked very small from over 100 metres high up.
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