This adorable Pays basque town not far from the coastline of Biarritz, is beautiful for its typical Basque homes. These etxe homes are white with colored half-timbering. The most common colrors for the half-timbering appear to be red and green, and the town of Espelette is filled with fine examples.
This picturesque town is best known for its sweet chili peppers – introduced to the region from Mexico in 1650. The piment d’ Espelette has a place of honor in many local dishes. They are used fresh, dried, pounded into a fine powder. There are also chocolates on sale with this sweet chili pepper flavoring them.
The chili peppers are grown in Espelette and in the neighboring towns surrounding it. They are harvested in summer and hung (picturesquely, to be sure) on long strings outside the pretty houses of Espelette – drying in the sun to the delight of the many tourists (myself included) snapping their photos.
Apparently, the official celebration for these local chili peppers is held at the end of October.
Espelette was also the hometown of Father Armand David (1826 – 1900) who was the first westerner to discover China’s panda bear.
Like many towns of the Pays basque interior, Espelette is surrounded by beautiful, rolling green hills. We had a great time straying from the rugged coastline where we were based and exploring this lush interior.
We had a very good lunch in a restaurant in town – complete, of course, with the local chili peppers. And we came home, as one is wont to do in this region, with a gateau basque, filled with sweet cherry filling.
A lovely, sunny day in the pretty Basque countryside. Be sure to stop by the postcard-perfect Espelette when you’re in this neck of the woods.
For some of my earlier tips on what to see in the Pays basque, see my posts on seaside Guéthary, hiking the sentier littoral from France to Spain, Basque gravestones, and an overview of holidays in the Pays basque and beyond.