So, what do you get when you combine a couple of adventuresome friends, luscious homegrown fruits and vegetables, fresh baguettes and ripe cheese, a few bottles of carefully chosen wine, rollicking music, a rolling mountain range and deep draughts of countryside air?
You get Bardos.
Bardos is a place where people still live in houses with names, not numbers. You can mount a bicycle for a serpentine ride through the valley and get passed by more tractors than SUVs. Gardens give up an awful lot more goodness than one would expect this side of
Meet Paul and Beatrice Dick, our gracious hosts and guides to the magical French Basque countryside. These two know a good spot of land when they see one - and love to show it off. We were treated to a string of delightful lessons. Among other things, Paul taught us that every bottle of wine has a story behind it, and that a mountain of fresh basil leaves will make exactly two trays full of pesto. Beatrice proved that four salads can make a perfect picnic, especially if you are eating them at the Place des Quatre Salades. She also convinced us that coffee is the only respectable way to terminate a meal, and hot is the only right way to drink it!
At night, we watch as the Pyrenées fade and the moon rises large, sometimes orange. At some point during the gradual eventide, bats begin – quite suddenly - to frantically dive and swoop for their supper, snapping us out of our own afterdinner, soporific trance. Shadows dance all around, and as long as we grab a sweater and cafes, we’re good for at least another forty-five minutes on the patio. Life stories, future plans, and all that stretch in-between called the present. What a present.
Back along these country roads which border rows upon rows of field corn, somewhere in the midst of all that quiet, faithful industry - lies the tiny town of
Too soon, it was time to stuff our party hats into the suitcase, and board the train yet again, bound for dear old Paris. To be continued...
(Merci mille fois, Paul et Beatrice!)