This week I have all my final exams. I’m done with the 2 extremely easy ones and I have 3 to go! Because of the testing, there was no school Tuesday. I just had to show up for an oral exam that I was over by 11 am. Not wanting to waste any more of my precious time left in France, I hopped on a train to take a day trip to Bayonne – the chocolate capital!
I was very pressed for time when I arrived though – my train had been delayed at a stop for over an hour in some ghetto French town called Dax, because of an accident. I ended up only had 2.5 hours to explore Bayonne before catching the last train that would take me to Pau in time to catch the last bus home.
…..I miss my car sometimes
When I finally got there, the first thing I set off to find was the tourist office. I couldn’t find a hostel online, but I was hoping they would know of one nearby. I wanted to spend the night in Bayonne and head farther south down the coast to St Jean De Luz the next day. I also passed the public gardens on my way which smelled so good! Nothing beats the scent of fresh spring flowers!
Unfortunately the tourist office informed me that there are no hostels in Bayonne – bummer! I decided to hustle and try to see as many of the sites as I could in what little time I had. I’d done a bit of research online and my program directors lent me a guidebook for the trip so I had a route all planned out.
Oh and did I mention it was 70 degrees out with clear skies? Finally some good weather!
The city has most of the original fortress, two chateaus and a decent amount of medieval houses. It made for a good walk.
I also explored 3 or 4 churches, but this is the only one I really liked. Walking into it the temperature dropped about 15 degrees, it was a nice oasis from the heat.
And the picture on the right is a “cloitre” in French. I had seen it online and went to find it, but the gate was locked Tuesday and I took this picture through the bars.
I saved the best part of my trip for last: Rue Port Neuf – the chocolate street. My advisors and a yearlong student (Leanne) told me I had to get the hot chocolate from Cazenave – one of the many chocolatiers on Rue Port Neuf. It ended up being a very pretty Tea Salon as well.
Leanne also recommended I get the special of toasts with my cocoa. I didn’t see what could be so great about toasts, but decided to try it. Leanne said it was expensive, but worth it.
I think the photo speaks for the hot chocolate. It was a dream come true for my taste buds. The toast on the other hand, was just really really buttery toast that cost 3 Euros. Considering I can buy a loaf of bread for 27 cents in France I don’t really think it was worth it. The chocolate made me feel fat enough without the buttery bread, but oh well, it was dinner.
Afterwards I bought some actual chocolates to save for a rainy day (or take back to the states with me if I can resist them!). I got 3 truffles, a milk chocolate bar with sea salt and caramel, as well as a dark chocolate bar with spices. I think the latter will be similar to the Mayan/Aztec truffles you can get in the states.
After my hot, hand whipped cocoa I headed back to Pau and arrived just in time for the sunset =)
Today my plan was to take a train to St Jean de Luz. I had no school so I went to the train station at 10 am and just barely got my ticket to Bayonne. From there I was told I would have to wait half an hour for my bus to St Jean de Luz.
Then the bus was delayed half an hour. 20 minutes afterwards it still had not shown up and I was told there had been some sort of “accident” delaying it. I was very very hungry and still annoyed from the train delay yesterday. I knew now that by the time I got to St Jean I would only have 2 hours to explore before taking a train home. I decided instead to see the sites I had missed in Bayonne yesterday.
I replaced another meal with dessert! A gateau Basque with cream and blueberry filling. This is the only place where you can get one with blueberry filling! This cake was perfect, everything about it was just decadent. With it, I also had a macaroon. It was the first time I have tried the French macaroons and it won’t be the last. I didn’t know a cookie could taste cool and creamy. This bakery made the best French desserts I have yet to taste…mmm…sugar.
I also found the “cloitre” open today and went inside!
I had studied on the train, on the blvd with my gateau and wanted to lay out on the grass with my notes. Thought it would be fine since I was the only visitor, but I got kicked off by the guy working there =(
Afterwards I just meandered about the city. Went back to the tourism office because I knew there were gothic caves around that I wanted to explore, but unfortunately those are only accessible through the Saturday tours.
Other than that I saw everything I wanted to. Bayonne was fun, but I look forward to making it out to the ocean next time!