The Basque coast is famous as a holiday hot spot, France’s little California is wonderful all year round! Whether visiting the small towns by the ocean, exploring the charming villages in the beautiful hilly countryside and admiring the natural beauty of the Pyrénées, there is so much to do and see! And for Escadrille of course the Basque country is all the more mythical, being a historical spot for espadrilles! Follow us on this visit, focusing on Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Guéthary, two small towns that we love, to discover the crafts of this very rich and beautiful region, sharing our favourite addresses.
In Saint-Jean-de-Luz, slow-life and and ancestral traditions.
A very active and charming fishing port, a superb protected bay, wonderful architecture and beautiful old Basque houses, Saint-Jean-de-Luz has it all!
In the lovely pedestrianised rue Gambetta, we are drawn to one address: Laffargue, a family business (the 4th generation is now in charge) which, since 1890 at this exact address has been creating and selling leather goods of exceptional quality (which have nothing to envy a famous French luxury leather-goods brand!) Bags, belts, small accessories, with or without the addition of silver nails, its signature. Laffargue is recognised as a Living Heritage Company.
Maison Laffargue, 25 rue Gambetta 64500 Saint-Jean-de-Luz
In St-Jean-de-Luz, we love sweets, and our hearts are set on finding out where the best macaroons in the city are. Our preferred address is Maison Adam, a venerable institution that has been rewarding us with its soft macaroons since 1660 (and the marriage in town of Louis XIV to Marie-Therese of Austria). The recipe has remained unchanged ever since! On the beautiful gift boxes, you can read “paré gabéa”, “without equal” in Basque, quite promising!
Maison Adam, 4-6 place Louis XIV, 64500 Saint-Jean-de-Luz
For a lunch or dinner break, we really like Etxe Nami, a culinary craft experience joining in one place Japanese traditions with the Basque terroir, beautiful products, including those brought in each morning by St-Jean-de-Luz fishermen, a beautiful presentation and a top Basque-Japanese welcome! It’s an atypical address, but it makes perfect sense when you discover it.
Exte Nami, 11 Avenue Jaureguiberry 64500 Saint-Jean de Luz
The artist Stéphane Pirel presents his linocut work in a pretty gallery just a stone’s throw from the bay. Linocut is a technique of engraving and printing which consists of removing the blanks or “reserves” from the final result, the ink settling on the parts not removed, thus in relief, the paper pressed onto the plate retaining the print of the ink. The prints are superb, colourful, contemporary, representing landscapes and Basque scenes. A great nice gift or souvenir, from the postcard to the original large format model.
Crusoée Gallery, 25 rue Joseph Garat, 64500 Saint-Jean-de-Luz
For three generations the Goicoechea family has been mastering pottery making, now a Living Heritage Company. The pottery, made of high quality clay, is famous throughout France because it can be monumental, the result of very impressive and unique techniques: one such technique is stamping, where the clay is placed manually inside a mould to give it a specific shape, and the other one is the spectacular rope technique, which consists of placing clay on large braided ropes over the desired height. The workshops are located in the Nive valley but one of the only two shops of the company is in St-Jean-de-Luz.
Goicoechea Pottery Place Louis XIV – 64500 Saint-Jean de Luz
Technically located in Ascain, a short distance from St-Jean-de-Luz (but there is also a shop in town), Lartigue 1910 is a Living Heritage Company rooted in the artisanal traditions of striped Basque textile weaving, which it continues to perpetuate. In Ascain, for a wonderful experience, you can visit the ateliers to better understand the manufacturing techniques, from the assembly of the 4,000 warp threads, to the weaving on machines that fill the workshop with a dizzying and fascinating spectacle. From the original colours, red and green (the colours of the Basque houses), Lartigue 1910 has a very creative approach to traditions and produces very beautiful textiles, always with stripes, used in furniture or tableware and decoration. Make sure you don’t miss the workshop visit times by checking the website first.
Lartigue 1910 Z.A DE LARRE LORRE 64310 Ascain
In Guéthary, a local life full of charm
A small port and a famous surfing spot, Guéthary is a favourite, a busy sport lifestyle with a touch of hipness and chic underneath its relaxed appearance.
The grocery shop in the village of Guéthary is a very unlikely place we love to come back to again and again: Yaoya, which means vegetable merchant in Japanese, is a delight for the eyes and the taste, which starts at the front, where the tone is set: on the door of a beautiful white Basque house with green shutters, noren, the Japanese small curtains, are a welcoming sign. Inside, the décor is magnificent in its elegant simplicity: beautiful Basque products, Japanese groceries not found elsewhere in the region, temporary exhibitions in the tatami area (often by local ceramists), and a few Japanese crafts. Such a charming place!
Yaoya 251 Av. du Général de Gaulle, 64210 Guéthary
Lena Baltazard is Swedish and has been living in the Basque Country for twenty years. She has opened her pottery atelier in Guéthary, a luminous space which is also a boutique, where she creates and sells everyday ceramics in simple and elegant organic forms, with soft colours inspired by the light of Scandinavian countries.
Guethary Pottery 49 avenue Harispe 64210 Guéthary
In Guéthary you can’t get enough of the ocean and the surfers who stay for hours on the mythical Parlementia wave, under any type of weather. For a front row seat, we settle down below the village, just above the sea, at the Ilunabar, perfect spot to have a coffee, a drink at sunset or lunch, open only if the weather is good as everything happens outside. Friendly and exciting.
Ilunabar 50 Promenade de la plage 64210 Guéthary