Just returned from a whirlwind week driving from St. Jean de Luz through St. Jean Pied de Port and Sarlat to finish up outside Bordeaux. Will offer details if anyone is interested, but want to thank the Chowhounds who were responsible for two of the best meals (and, interestingly, two of the least expensive) of the trip:
These were: l. Lion d'Or in Arcins in the Medoc peninsula.....fabulous set lunch for 10 euros in old-style, very convivial setting complete with cranky French waitess!!!!!!!! Would go back again and again, order outside the set menu next time. Also, the place permits BYOB!!!
2. Moulin a la Huile d'Noix in Les Landes outside the beautiful town of Martel. This is a walnut oil mill and we were lucky enough to watch its working after a farm lunch of soup, salad dressed with duck bits and walnut oil, choice of lamb or a duck confit that will forever remain embedded in my sensory memory, another salad, cheese plate, and walnut cake for dessert. Again, very inexpensive and an experience never to forget.
Two of our other favorites were Auberge Kaiku in St. Jean de Luz (fantastic garlicky prawns) and Le Presidial in Sarlat le Caneda. The best meal of the trip for the quality of the food was at Les Pyrenees in the R&C hotel of the same name in St. Jean Pied de Port. (One star). Amazing meal in lovely surroundings; service was impeccable and very friendly at the same time. Great place to stay the night in a town that is the quintessence of picturesque "charm," along the pilgrimage route to Compostela.. Will post more details of this meal in near future.
Surprisingly, although we just returned (mid-May) there appeared to be very few tourists and we saw almost no Americans....great time to travel!!!!!!