From Madiran we head into Basque Country.
The definitive feature of basque country is the architecture; white washed buildings, predominately with red painted timber beams, set amongst lush farmland. The grass is a vivid green, it looks like layers of rich silk rolling down the hillside.
Originally we thought it would be a two night stop over. But after we had rolled through one quaint village, after another quaint village, we decided one night would suffice and we would have covered enough of rural French Basque.
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is perhaps the most well known village in this area. It is a popular starting point for the Camino de Santiago, a 780km pilgrimage that people either walk or cycle to Santiago de Compostela.
Besides the spanish influence of bullfighting, Pelota is another particular sport unique to the region. We watch a junior team playing with a long basket scoop attached to their hands, catching and throwing a ball a bit smaller than a baseball and harder than a golf ball. It looks like a cross between squash, handball and lacrosse.
We stayed the night in one of the quaint villages; Saint-Etienne-de-Baigorry in a rural gite, waking to a wonderful view and the sound of sheep being milked – yes, sheep not cows!
Whilst the region is lovely, we felt it was becoming a bit ‘same-same’ for us. There are only so many quaint villages you can stop at!