Photography and text by Don George
ABOARD CRYSTAL SERENITY — The second stop on our President’s Cruise was Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France, just north of the border with Spain. This was my first visit here, so I didn’t know what to expect; but after ambling from the ship’s tender into the main square, I was immediately enchanted by the town’s distinctive red and white buildings with deep red wooden balconies and shutters, the bright canvases exhibited by artists, and the exultant embrace of café culture. This was my kind of town!
Aimless wanderings led me past tempting displays of the town’s famed macarons, flowers and tomatoes — and to street musicians entertaining crowds with buoyant melodies on sun-dappled squares .
Sidewalk chalkboards with enticing menus inspired me to make my own pique-nique: a delicious, five-euro grilled chicken sandwich on a tree-shaded bench by the sea, with a million-dollar view of the beach and, in the distance, the elegant Serenity. For dessert, serendipity led me to an artisanal ice creamery with the mintiest mint chip I’ve ever tasted.
Featured image: I couldn’t leave without joining the café celebration; so, to end the day’s wonder-filled wanderings, I found a table right on the main square and ordered a local rosé. Sipping and scribbling in my journal, thinking of the rich mix of history, architectural style and sensual joie de vivre I’d discovered throughout the day, I raised my glass to a brief but deeply enchanted stay in lovely Saint-Jean-de-Luz.