Whenever someone says the word "Basque" what do you think of? The Basque beret? Basque pelota? Basque cake? You’d certainly be on the right track, but you can also add the dances, singing and the trials of strength, etc. And what about the Bayonne ham or the ewe cheese? You'll need your whole holiday to fully discover this superb region with its distinctive character! The many festivals and festivities will help you. You can find the full event programme at the reception office of your family campsite.
In addition to the folkish aspect, dancing in the Basque country is a way to greet or thank someone, and to add solemnity to a religious or social event.
There are many different kinds of Basque dances: the Fandango (a typical dance for couples based a waltz rhythm), the Mutxikos (organised regularly on Sundays), in addition to line or circle dancing.
In each village, you can watch a Basque dancing performance… or even take part!
The Basque country has a wealth of singers. It's not a real family event if it's not accompanied by traditional songs, in Euskara of course (the Basque language), even if the meanings of the words may remain a mystery to the guests.
Around 50 secular choirs perpetuate this long tradition in the northern Basque country. As an example, you simply need to attend a mass in Cambo to hear the hymns sung by many voices in Euskara; by the women in the central nave and the men further up in the galleries so typical of churches in this region.
Basque trials of strength
For centuries now, young people in the Basque country have organised trials of strength among the different farms. This tradition has gradually been transformed into a competition including cutting tree trunks with an axe, stone dragging, stone lifting and tug-of-war, etc... Today, 16 different disciplines are officially recognised. Come along and discover these during the many festivals and why not try your own strength while you're at it!
This is THE national sport in the Basque country. It is played outdoors on one of the many "frontons" (walls) or indoors at the Jaï-alaï and the Trinquet courts in Saint Jean de Luz. There are several varieties; it can be played barehanded, with a leather or wickerwork chistera or a pala (a solid or stringed wooden racket).
Euskara: the Basque language
The rural nature of the Basque country has helped it maintain its Basque language. This is a very old language, read back-to-front (from right to left) and has no prepositions. Additionally, the letters and suffixes are combined with the words. With a little effort, we're sure you'll get the hang of it.
The beret originates from the Béarn area. It appeared in the 15th century and was manufactured by shepherds. Today, combined with a French stick and a bottle of wine, it is one of the stereotypical symbols of France abroad.
The Basque cake
This famous pastry product started life in Cambo. It includes flour, sugar and butter (lots of it!). Garnished with black cherries or pastry cream, there's nothing better after a spot of surfing or hiking in the mountains.
This is derived from the family tradition of the pèle-porc, meat which was salted and dried to be set aside for times of scarcity. It owes the "Bayonne" part of its name to the fact that it was marketed from this port. You can take back a whole ham to enjoy a tasty souvenir of your unforgettable holiday throughout the winter…
The Marmitako, a tuna stew, is the traditional dish of the Basque fishermen, who used to prepare it onboard the boats when they set off on fishing expeditions to catch tuna.
This is a very strong local pepper variety. Its name comes from a small Basque village, Espelette, where it has been grown since age immemorial and where it is dried in garlands on the white facades. Stock up for winter!
The Ardi-gasna, ewe cheese
This ewe cheese is traditionally eaten with black cherry jam from Itxassou or, as in the Spanish cider factories, with quince fruit jelly.