Lost In Limoges

From the sheep-dotted pastures of France's underpopulated Southwest, Limoges rises in all its grey glory. The city's claim to fame: fine porcelain. The half-timbered houses of the Medieval center are surrounded by strip malls and McDo. Land-hungry Brits descend with flailing pocketbooks (thanks, RyanAir). The weather is remarkably cool year-round. Sure, I live on rue de Nice, but this is NOT the Cote d'Azur. Welcome to Limoges, "the middle of nowhere"-- or as Pierre says "everywhere"-- France.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Desperately Seeking Chocolate: Bayonne's Famous Pralines

The capital of Le Pays Basque is a charming, traditional town just 8 km to the west of Biarritz. So when the sun fails to show at the beach, head to Bayonne and lose yourself in the quaint, cultured streets. Where Biarritz is more flashy and refined, Bayonne retains its Basqueness: tall shuttered buildings hugging the riverbank, Euskara slogans spray-painted on walls, winding, ancient alleys where artisans have kept shop for centuries, and 17th century ramparts circling the old city center. And along with the thick, flavorful pieces of Jambon de Bayonne, beloved all over France, this town is celebrated for its chocolate.

We sought out the chocolate factory Puyodebat, next to the cathedral, and indulged in enormous nougat-filled pralines, slabs of dark chocolate-bark, and luscious ganache. I hear there's a big Chocolate Festival in May. Count me in.


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