Hello from the Basque country

Trip Start Dec 10, 2009
Trip End Feb 18, 2010

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Where I stayed
Ferme Larrendamia

Flag of France  , Aquitaine,
Saturday, January 23, 2010

A short trip from Caracassonne to Pau and an overnight stay at the Novotel Lescar was truly a non-event for all of us. The Novotel Lescar, a supposedly 3 Star Hotel, is not what it seemed from the pictures online; totally worn out and in the middle of renovation. On thursday morning early, we drove to Pau, Place de Verdun to French archives regiment Caserne Bernadotte, so I could acquire a military statement of services rendered. After a quick breakfast in a local brasserie, we walked to have a brief look at the centre ville then headed off towards Bayonne, to our destination a small village in the Basque country called Villefranque, where my old regiment commanding officer General Leblanc (retired) lives. The weather was not the best on the autoroute with rain and low visibility at times, especially when overtaking trucks and getting their backwash, but we still drove at 130km/hr, the speed limit in France. Jane enjoyed the views of the snow capped Pyrenees mountains on the horizon and the lovely lush green valleys as well the flight of wild geese in the sky. At one stage Jane sighted more then 200+ wild geese in a field on the ground. We arrived in Villefranque with sexy GPS voice on board telling us we had reached our destination, chemin Larremendia, but we didn't know which house was Ferme Larramendia. Seeing a farmer and his cows crossing the road, we asked where General Leblanc lived and found a stunning old splendidly renovated Basque country farm dating from 1654,located in the middle of a small forest. There we were greeted by my old commanding officer,General Olivier Leblanc and his wife Nicole. Toubab, a beautiful Golden Retriever was eager to see Jonathan get out of the car, wagging his tail and gently lying on his back for Jonathan to scratch his belly and say hello. We had lunch together and Jean-Michel talked with the General about our old Regiment, that I had just visited in Carcassonne. Later we had a drive with General Leblanc who kindly took us to St Jean de Luz, a beautiful little coastal village situated in the Gulf of Gascony, the St Tropez of South West France. We saw the church where Louis XIV married Marie Therese of Spain, as it was the church closest to Spain to formalise the alliance. Jonathan enjoyed seeing the fishing boats and the sea. That evening we met Bibi (a family friend of General and Madame Leblanc) accompanied by her black labrador Tinta. Bibi is a breeder of Golden retrievers here in France and exports dogs to Europe, the US and even Australia. Friday, 22 January was a magnificent day weatherwise in Villefranque with blue skies and temperature 15 degrees, our best day yet. The General drove us to Biarritz , where we looked at the beach and buildings, beautiful villas built in the 1800s adjacent to the beach. The surf was up and we saw French surfers out on their boards and waves crashing onto the beach. Upon our return we drove through Bayonne and came back to Ferme Larramendia. Jonathan has been happy to relax and play with all the toys and watch DVDs, as the Leblanc grandchildren come to visit regularly and have lots of playthings. He is happy to watch DVDs in French or English so hopefully he is absorbing more French language by osmosis.
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Ian Brazier on

G'day Jane

I hope that your adventures continue to be fun.

Clive called here tonight saying that he has to go back to the specialist for follow-up because of "nodes" in his stomach. He wants you to give him a call when you have time.

Ian B

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