We had been traveling for just about three weeks by the time we arrived in Oloron St. Marie. This small town, located in the foothills of the Pyrenées Mountains, had been on our radar from the beginning. It’s an out of the way, quiet, not much happening kind of place. With the assistance of the Tourist Information Office we were able to reserve a room at Patrick’s B&B “La Rive d’O”.
What a delightful spot. It felt like home away from home!
Patrick turned out to be one of the nicest people we encountered during the entire trip. His B&B is a charming, gorgeously located property. Our upstairs room overlooked part of a quiet garden, and had a great private bath. Much to our delight, there was a washing machine we were able to utilize for our laundry (anyone who travels very light will understand this). We explored the property, which featured a beautiful creek, a vast wooded area, a small bamboo grove and a sitting area, which just called out for a romantic picnic. A truly blissful sanctuary! Only the rustling of the trees, the noisy stream and the most beautiful songbirds were audible. No cellphones beeping, no TV’s blaring, just rest and relaxation and the sounds of nature!
Breakfast was included with the room, and it was a real treat. The dining room French doors opened up to the peaceful scenery surrounding the inn. Creek sounds , bird songs, freshly baked bread, hot coffee and some of the best homemade preserves I’ve ever eaten in my entire life, were awaiting us every morning.
However, when dinner came around, we knew we had truly arrived in paradise! You see, Patrick is also a fantastic chef. Our being vegetarians, gave him a challenge, which he aced. The two dinners we had there, were out of this world. He cooked and served the food and explained his creations. One appetizer we especially loved, was a beet mousse. It’s to die for!! He was kind enough to give me the recipe, which I will post with my upcoming beet post. We slept like babies, and were so grateful to recharge our batteries at La Rive d’O. Merci beaucoup, Patrick!
In Oloron, we visited a factory where Basque berets are still made today. At Laulhère, the beret has been produced since 1840. To this day, about 80% of the work is still done by hand. The first berets were sported by Basque shepherds, who felted the wool and hand knitted the hats, to protect themselves from the elements.
The creator of these beautiful berets is the only factory left in France, which does not outsource the production. They still use the same traditional methods, and let me tell you, traditional craftsmanship at its best!
We purchased a few for gifts, and also one for ourselves, which will always remind us of Oloron St. Marie.
During this journey, we visited quite a variety of fascinating places. Oloron, I must say, was special! Very special! It presented us with the perfect (for us) combination of old and new, a picturesque setting, time to unwind, opportunities to eat some great food and drink some fabulous regional French wines and take in the incredible views of the nearby mountains.
Au revoir Oloron!