It's not France, it's not Spain...


One wet, stormy day we ventured into Basque country and had a look around Bayonne (click for more info). This beautiful little city sits at the meeting of two rivers, the Nive and the Adour. It is famous for giving the world bayonets and for its style of ham and chocolate industry. The buildings are decorated with red or blue shutters in a distinctive style, mimicking the colours of their flag. We had a look around Petit Bayonne and had lunch at one of the riverside bistros. The Musee Basque has a wealth of information about traditions specific to the Basque region, like the sport of pelota and traditional dance. This was a great museum that catered to kids (some in France don't!) by having things they can pick up and touch or listen to. There was also a replica interior of a Basque house, complete with furniture. The Basque people are fiercely proud of their heritage and there have been calls for greater autonomy for the region.

Pedestrian street with Cathedrale Sainte-Marie in the background

The Basque language is still spoken by some 800,000 people in Spain and France. Signage is all in Basque and French. Basque words seem to have a lot of X's in them. The language is fascinating as it is unrelated to all other known languages. Its forerunner was Aquitanian, which dates back to pre-Roman times. Some have even theorised that it was spoken in Neolithic times. Read more about Basque here if you are interested.

Distinctive Basque buildings in the market square

French hacks

No matter how good your French, you might hear some of these sayings and be a little confused:
  • Il y a des jours sans et il y a des jours avec
Literally there are days without and there are days with
Meaning is similar to 'you have good days and bad days' with a Gallic shrug

  • Je m'en fiche
Meaning I couldn't care less

  • Quoi
This is very common, mostly used at the end of a sentence (similar to eh in English)

  • C'est parti!
Varied meanings including 'here we go', 'go', 'we're off', 'it's on'


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