The Pecoïtz Hotel

I was half-way through writing The Bear and the Basque when we flew to the Basque Country for a research visit. We happened upon the Pecoïtz hotel near Saint Jean Pied de Port, an important stage of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The Pecoïtz was so perfect, it went straight to my heart and the heart of my novel. 

Visitors’ reviews were equally divided. While the French raved about the food and the friendliness of the staff, English speakers objected to the basic rooms and a breakfast of bread, butter and jam served between 8:00 and 9:00 am. (‘What? No croissants?’) The French, for whom bread and jam at 8:00 am is a totally reasonable proposition, loved the family feel and “Oh… the food!” The dining-room was always full. It was a wonderful place.

The main village was Esterençuby, a linear spread of houses we reached after a strenuous walk the day they were having a village lunch. ‘Can we buy a ticket?’ I asked one of the organisers. ‘We’ve just walked over three mountains and we are starving.’

Mais oui, bien sûr!’ A village lunch with locals. What were the chances?

While my (Irish) husband discussed rugby, I infiltrated a posse of elderly ladies and asked about their family. Three hours later, the Patxaran flowing freely, we had made firm friends and I had all the information I needed. 

We staggered back to the Pecoïtz, reassured that the novel was finished and the world was a good place. 


….and get a free prequel to my new book, plus an additional short story and a ‘hamper’ with a traditional French cake recipe and songs linked to my novels!