“Ionce upon a time“, here is how this article could begin, which seems to be akin to a fairy tale, the story of which would be located in the heart of a region so magnificent that it must come straight from the imagination of a painting by Renoir or Monet.
The weather is nice in this spring on the roads of the Landes towards the Basque Country, the landscapes crossed smell like holidays, letting go. After a few kilometres, the Landes landscapes gradually give way to different vegetation which seems to open its arms to us as the Landes recede with its pines, its asparagus fields, its typical and intimate houses.
Here then is the landscape of the Basque Country, its valleys, its valleys, its snow-white houses with touches of red, an idyllic picture of an open-air Louvre.
The goal of this little trip is called Itxassou, a pretty little village in the heart of the interior Basque Country.
This village is well known thanks to a small fruit: the black cherry. World capital of this delicate and tasty delicacy, the cherry gives, in spring, areas of Japan to this Basque village with its cherry blossoms: a living picture that could have inspired the Impressionists.
Itxassou a chaotic story
Itxassou has been occupied since protohistory, and the typology we know of it today appears in 1264, but it is under the French Revolution that its darkest history appears, close to the border with Spain and following the refusal of the population to fight its inhabitants will be deported to the bordering departments.
Like many Basque villages, Itxassou is a very large village, divided into several districts. On the heights, dominates the church of Basque architecture, dating from the 17th century, it is surrounded by its cemetery with discoidal and tabular tombs, typical of Basque cemeteries.
In the center of the village, near the Fronton, is the center of evocation of the village ATEKA. This center offers visitors a discovery of Itxassou, its historical heritage, its fauna, its flora, its gastronomy and of course the cherry, the entrance is free.
In addition to the cherry, Itxassou is also the village of the pollard tree of the Basque Country which is a privileged witness to the history of this region as well as a biodiversity issue.
This tree is a truly exceptional refuge for biodiversity, in particular thanks to its cavities where pollinators and other insects, birds, bats, reptiles and small mammals can nest. The tadpole, this tree that we could qualify as a hardy tree, therefore provides numerous services to the local ecology.
Maison Bonnet d’Itxassou the Basque soul
There is, in the heart of the village, next to the Fronton, a house which alone sums up the Basque soul. When the door of Maison Bonnet is open, Basque hospitality opens its arms to you. Smile, kindness as well as beautiful and good things bathe this house. It’s not just a hotel, restaurant where you enter, it’s above all with friends, relatives, for whom you are the treasures to be pampered.
The rooms with a view of the Place du Fronton or the mountain are a refinement where the hand of the mistress of the place has been able to decorate each room with an artist’s taste (small special note for the “Bayonne” cousins).
This house also hides another secret, its restaurant. At the heart of the hotel, the restaurant offers such refined, local cuisine, beautiful on the plate, dazzling in the mouth, in fact staying at Maison Bonnet is not admiring a painting but it is being within of this masterpiece.
True lovers of their village and the history of their region, the Bonnet family will be your best guide to teach you the site to see, the village not to be missed, the little forgotten chapel, the small essential producer….
After dinner at the Bonnet restaurant, before returning to your room, at nightfall, strolling through the village in the middle of these white houses is like being in cotton that prepares you for a sweet sleep, it’s already diving in a dream.
These few days spent in this small Basque town and at Maison Bonnet are an enchanted interlude, a fairy tale that we would like to see never end.