On Saturday, the group went on an excursion to a few of the neighboring towns to see the area and sample some of the regional delicacies.
First stop was St. Jean Pied-de-Port, which is famous for being at the foot of the mountains, and where many pilgrims (pèlerins) pass through or stay on their spiritual journey up the mountain.
The shells you see on the backpacks above are the symbols of the pilgrimage, known as “Les Cloques de St. Jacques.” Anytime you see a backpacker walk by, you can usually find one of these shells on their backpack.
The arch which led to the Citadel of Verbun, which was built by St. Sebastien de Verbun to house all the artillery for Louis XIV.
At least… I’m pretty sure that’s what our tourguide said. His annunciation leaves something to be desired.
While the town itself was beautiful, the details on the houses were even more interesting.
Next, we went to a vignoble, or a winery, that produced Irouleguy (ee-rule-ghee), the wine of the Basque region.
Next, onto Espelette, a town known for its dried chile peppers, or pimentes.
Our final stop was at a fromagerie, where they produce le fromage du brebis, a regional specialty as well. It’s a hard cheese with a strong flavor, and, not to mention, really good.
I forgot to mention that fromage du brebis is a sheep’s cheese, as brebis is another word for sheep– though mouton is the more commonly used. The Basque country is a region of sheepherders, and famous, therefore, for its sheep products. A lot of people have little sheep bumper stickers on their cars, sort of as a tribute to their heritage.
Also, who knew that the whole “black sheep of the family” was actually a real thing? In every herd I saw, whether it was here, at the farm, or in the countryside, there was always one black sheep. Anyone know any more about this? I’m going to ask my host mom.