Espelette

Famous for its sweet red
peppers, this large village is
also noted as the birthplace
of Father Armand David
(1826–1900), who discovered
the great panda in China, as
well as a species of deer,
Elaphurus davdianus, which
is named after him. A plaque
marks Maison Bergara, where
he lived. Also worth a visit is the 11th-century Château des
Barons d’Ezpeleta, which
now houses the village hall
and tourist office.
The church, just outside,
has a painted ceiling, wooden
galleries, a 17th-century
altarpiece and a large bell
tower. In the cemetery are
ancient circular-topped
funerary stones and the Art
Deco tomb of the first woman
to become Miss France.

PIMENT D’ESPELETTE
Introduced into the Pays Basque from
Mexico in 1650, these sweet red peppers
first served as a medicine and only later as
a condiment and preservative. They are
used whole, either fresh or dried, or in
powdered form in many local dishes, and
even as a flavouring in chocolate. The
Gorria variety, known as piment d’Espelette,
is grown in ten villages around Espelette.
The peppers are picked in late summer,
threaded onto string and hung to dry,
often across the front of houses. The
symbol of Espelette, these peppers have an AOC, and a
festival in their honour is held on the last Sunday of October.