Villandraut is around an hour from Bordeaux, only accessible by car or bicycle, but full of history. The Chateau which dominates the center of town was built by Pope Clement V who was born in Villandraut. The Ciron River flows through, offering water activites in the summer, and a weekly Thursday market is a great way to take in the local culinary culture!
the butchers of Bazas were to offer a bull to the bishop in occasion of the celebrations of St. John (another day still honored in Bazas today). They were granted the right to parade their best cattle in the streets of the village on the Thursday before Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French/Shrove Tuesday).
The tasty aspect of this holiday, Chandeleur here in France, is the great amount of crêpes made, in each household, following a different recipe. My father in law is self-appointed crepe-master. He prepares, like every year, the batter 24 hours in advance, mixing fresh eggs, flour, butter, a pinch of salt and a mix of rum and pastis. There is no sugar in our mix, as the sweet will be added after being cooked.
16th century Annonciade couvent in Bordeaux used to collect the egg yolks from the wine makers who had used the egg whites to clarify the wine (some say to seal they used the egg whites to seal the barrel but that makes less sense). The legend likes to add that they collected extra vanilla, rum and sugar shipped back from the Caribbean, and added flour and milk. It's all very romantic, and one can envision nuns in their habits looking for the spices to be scavenged from the spice storage in Chartons (now the modern art museum). However, there are some key issues with the story.
You might wonder how to tell the good saffron from the bad safflower, why some threads costing three times as much as other 'saffron'. Well, as with many expensive food items, besides the quality, you also have to question the authenticity. It takes at least 100,000-200,000 threads of saffron to make a kilo, which sells for anywhere from 3,000-6,000 EURO. It's the most expensive spice in the world...During the pandemic of bubonic plague a war ensued called the 'Saffron War', it was so valued as a cure for the suffering that stocks in Europe were depleted and more was ordered from the East.
In the Basque Country, this tree is not valued as much for its fruits, but rather for its wood, used to create the typical stick of the region, la makila.
Along the narrow and steep streets of the center there are nice timber-framed buildings, a house where Henry II spent a night, and The Musee des Jacobins (also known as Musee des Ameriques) hosting the second most important collection of pre-Colombian artefacts.
One of the most authentic French countryside towns might be Bazas. Its arcaded town square, beautiful Saturday morning markets and unique yearly festivals are only a few of the reasons to visit.
What I discovered while working in Barcelona, was that I loved sharing local food experiences with people visiting. Where someone might mistake the 'local' cuisine to be paella and tapas...which is not Catalan and not local...I was able to introduce to fideua catalane or butifarra.