Visiting Espelette – French Story & Translation

Discover the Pays Basque region of France, in particular the spicy village of Espelette and practice your French with this easy learn French in context story written in easy French and then translated into English.

Use the floating blue icon in the bottom right to hide/reveal the English translations below or just click here.

Je propose toujours à mes étudiants d’immersion en français la visite d’Espelette.Ce village, dont le nom signifie « lieu planté de buis » en basque, accueille tout au long de l’année de nombreux visiteurs. Les raisons de cet engouement sont nombreuses.

I always suggest visiting Espelette to my French immersion students. The village, whose name means “place planted of boxwood” in Basque, welcomes many visitors throughout the year. The reasons for this popularity are many.

1 – Espelette Unique Pepper

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Le piment d’Espelette est renommé dans toute la France. Cultivé dans les terres environnantes, c’est un produit AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) très utilisé par les grands chefs sous forme de poudre remplaçant le poivre ainsi que dans de nombreuses recettes locales.

The Espelette pepper is known throughout France. Grown in the surrounding areas, this is a product AOC (Label guaranty of origin and quality) widely used by chefs as powdered pepper and replacing black pepper in many local recipes.

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2 – Espelette Village

Le village est vraiment coquet, niché au cœur de petites montagnes l’entourant au sud . Ses rues, bordées de maisons traditionnelles aux volets et boiseries peints principalement en rouge invitent à la flânerie …Là, l’œil est souvent attiré et surpris par les façades recouvertes de piments en train de sécher au soleil ou tout simplement utilisés comme décoration.

The village is really pretty, nestled in the heart of small mountains surrounding the south. Its streets, lined with traditional houses with shutters and woodwork painted mainly in red, invite you to stroll … Here, the eye is often caught by surprise by facades covered with peppers drying in the sun or simply used as decoration.

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Dans la partie basse du village se trouve l’Église St Etienne , véritable petite forteresse très ancienne (moyen âge). Le clocher a été ajouté au XVIIème siècle. Comme la plupart des églises basques, autrefois, elle servait aussi de lieu de rassemblement afin de protéger les populations lors des batailles diverses tout au long de l’histoire de la région. Le retable, les galeries en bois, ainsi que la porte d’entrée en bois, vieille de plus de 400 ans sont magnifiques.

In the lower part of the village we find the church of St Etienne, real fortress, very old . The bell tower was added in the seventeenth century. Like most Basque churches, formerly, it served as a gathering place to protect people during various battles throughout the history of the region. The altarpiece, the wooden galleries, as well as the wooden door, spanning over 400 years, are wonderful.

3 – The Road from Bayonne to Espelette

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La route que je choisis pour aller de Bayonne à Espelette est une route tranquille et vraiment panoramique. Elle offre des vues sur la campagne et les montagnes dont je ne me lasse pas.

The route I drive to go from Bayonne to Espelette is a quiet road and really scenic. It offers views of the countryside and the mountains which I never get tired of.

If you liked this post, you’d probably be interested to read Olivier’s own recipe to prepare lobster: le homard au piment d’espelette.

Why not consider a stay at Myriam’s home in Pays Basque to better your French? Here is more info about French Immersion Residential courses.

If you enjoy learning French in context, check out French Today’s downloadable French audiobooks: French Today’s bilingual novels are recorded at different speeds and enunciation, and focus on today’s modern glided pronunciation. 


I am a certified native French teacher who also speaks Spanish, English & Japanese, and offers immersion stays in my home near Bayonne. I’m passionate about my region and it’s culture, and love doing hikes and cooking regional specialties.

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