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In this region between mountain and sea, with the pilgrim trail to Compostela passing through, history has left a deep imprint. One of the most visible traces is a beautiful deep red, known as "baigorry", which adorns the facades of the houses and signifies their Basque origins like a waving flag. Among the oldest in the village, the house sits near the church and is discreetly sheltered under tall trees. Behind the whitewashed walls, a colourful world has been created where past and present unite, and every detail contributes to a sense of peace, comfort and a desire to succeed. Once through the door, mountain walks, trips to beaches as far away as Spain, and all your desires are within reach.
My family is of Basque-Bearn origin and has been living in the region for several centuries. We have been in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, where the last family home is located, since 1910. Thirty-two years ago, when we were looking for a second home, it seemed only natural for us to look in this region. We were lucky enough to find this house in the centre of the village of Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle. We immediately fell in love even though the project was a little ambitious considering the 900m² surface area had to be reorganised.
Built between 1680 and 1720, the house is among the oldest in the village and is typical of the local houses built before the half-timbered buildings. All the windows are framed with large traditional stones and the walls are extra thick, keeping the property cool in summer and warm in winter. The house also features beautiful high ceilings with exposed beams.
The house was originally named Mendikuenea, which means doctor's house in Basque. And it indeed belonged to the village doctor in the 17th century. The ground floor was used as a horse stable and the noble parts, reserved for residential purposes, were on the first floor. The parish priest still lives across the street in the house where Admiral Wellington stayed after defeating the Napoleonic troops in the plain of Saint-Pée. Rumour has it that when the admiral arrived, the parish priest's housekeeper, who had not yet prepared a meal, invented beef Wellington for him.
We offer the charm of an old building overlooking the countryside on the garden side, in the heart of a typical village in the Basque Country. All amenities and small food shops are within walking distance. The village is located twenty minutes from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz, Bayonne and Spain. It is therefore possible to go for a coffee on the famous Place Louis XIV in Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the morning, explore the beautiful beaches of the coast after lunch or go for a walk in the mountains, and then end the day with some tapas in Spain.
In the centre of the village just fifty metres from the house, there are two very good restaurants: Santiago and La Nivelle. Not far away, À l'Auberge Basque is a Michelin starred restaurant where Cédric Béchade serves gastronomy that expresses the true essence of the Basque region. There are also the small mountain restaurants, known as 'benta', which you reach after a walk. Saint-Pée has a listed 16th century church, the church of Saint-Pierre, which is a smaller version of the church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz where Louis XIV married the Infanta of Spain. It houses a majestic altarpiece dating from the 18th century which is also listed. Three galleries characterise the Basque style and the ceiling of the altar, in the shape of a shell, serves as a reminder that Saint-Pée is on the road to Compostela. Behind the church, an old mill that is still functioning is open to visitors.
The entire house, with the exception of one room which would be reserved for the owners is available for filming. A quality hotel is less than one hundred metres away if needed. As for catering, everything can be organised with nearby restaurants.