the sweet life in biarritz + a ‘do not disturb’ sign

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Biarritz was only this morning but it feels like decades past. The train back to Paris hurtled so fast through the countryside, you’d think it was on the run, and I couldn’t help but think that the ocean now felt small, like some sort of tableaux in sepia, a blue dream I had in the morning to then wake in a cold metropolis. Truth be told, I’m having a tough time making adjustments, of finding my way back. It occurs to me that I’ve spent much of this time thinking, so much so that it sometimes feels dangerous, as I have a habit of so easily slipping into a life vibrantly lived in my head.

Instead, I share the pretty diversions, the edited for television version of these past three weeks, simply because there are things that should always be kept offline. I don’t want to be figured out or resolved. I want to be the person who sorts out my life, and lately I’ve been recoiling from people who dole out unsolicited advice like sweets, tell me I should be doing this, that or whatever. At times my reactions have been visceral, irrational, abrasive because I can sense in their words and facial expressions that they want a kind of closure, a finishing of sorts. They want me to snap to it, be the Felicia they want to know or think they know. They want a refreshed LinkedIn page that puts an end to all that. They want to say, so, we’re done here, right?

Even if their words imply none of the above, right now I just need to hold up my DO NOT DISTURB sign. I need to surround myself with people who are comfortable with the words, I don’t know. I need to be around people who put down their phone while we’re eating.

Oh dear. I just realized I was supposed to write about pastry, wasn’t I?

The good news is that you can’t really get a terrible sweet experience in Biarritz. While it’s true there are fanciful shops that will make you gasp over the cost of a piece of chocolate (most of which are located along the waterfront), Biarritz offers incredible chocolates, breads and Basque treats that had me shaking from sugar. My favorite was the very simple gateaux basque, a cake-cum-tart with a crumbly, semolina consistency that is filled with cherry compote, cream or chocolate. From the cracked crust to the delicate filling juxtaposed with the dense texture of the cake, you’ll fawn over the texture + flavor plays. It’s so simple, yet, SO PERFECT.

My choice spots are Real Chocolate (bark chocolate that will have you keeling over from the richness), Maison Adam (finally, a macaron I can actually tolerate!), Le Secret des Pain (the best loaves of bread, beignets and cakes you’ll have in Biarritz), Gateaux Basque at the Miremont (with an ocean view that isn’t too shabby) + all the local boulangeries in Les Halles.

Trying so hard to slow that train down…

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