The Basque Country in France called Pays Basque has to be one of the most chilled out places in France. Tucked away in the southwest corner bordering the Atlantic coast of northern Spain.Usually held in the first week of August, this year late July, the Basque Land’s biggest city Bayonne comes alive with what is the biggest party in France and probably all of Europe. The Fête de Bayonne is 5 days of partying, and after all the festivities, during the day you can relax on the beach at nearby Anglet and Biarritz.
The Fête’s costume are white clothes (shorts or long pants and shirt), with a red scarf tied around the neck and red sash around the waist. If you don’t have this yet, you can go to any of the local supermarkets like Carrefour or Auchan for example and buy them cheap.
The festivities in the city begin with a foot race from Biarritz to Bayonne, and then the fete’s symbol King Leon of Bayonne, invites the guests to his town by throwing the keys of the towncity to the crowd, from the balcony of the mayor’s office. Other festivities are a parade down the main streets of the town, buskers (known as bandas) wandering the town, a chariot parade, live concerts, and a competition of the Basque game pelote. There is also a running of the bulls for the children, which are papier maché figures of bulls on wheels. The end of the Fetes is celebrated with fireworks along the River Adour.
The event was originally inspired by the nearby Fiesta of San Fermin, in Pamplona, from there Bayonne has adopted many of the traditions of Pamplona. Hence the red and white colours are used and they also have a running of the young bulls.
While you’re hanging around the fete you can catch a refreshment at some of the bars around the city one of which was spotted Q- Sec which in French means “bottoms up”. The crowd at nights can be so great that moving through it can become a fun thing to do. Sometimes there are so many pressed in the street that you have no control over the direction you are sent, and surprisingly you get out of the crush.
On the way to the fete, you may hear the French singing funny songs in large groups. If you can catch what they are sining you might laugh. These are called Paillardes, which are essentially French beer drinking songs.
This year the Fete is on between the 25th July and Sunday 29th July. If you are there right now hope you’re having fun. “Amuse-toi bien- Have Fun and “Cul-sec- bottoms up”