Spice up your autumn with a trip to Espelette in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of southwest France. Here in the heart of Basque Country, you can join the locals as they celebrate their famous red chilli pepper.
This year the event takes place on the weekend of October 29 and 30 and you can expect all the usual treats, from the induction of new members by the Confrérie du Piment d’Espelette to the bustling and colourful Pepper Market, which forms the very the heart of the festival. Look out for colourful braids of peppers, chilli powder, chilli jelly… you name it, they’ve got it!
Traditional dances, live bandas music, pepper sales, workshops on braiding peppers and prizes for the most beautiful pepper stall all add to the fun. A solemn mass with the choir of Espelette and the blessing of the peppers will be followed by a parade by the Confrérie.
The red Espelette pepper, which is native to South America, has become a vital ingredient in the local Basque gastronomy and here in this southern corner of France you’ll see it roped together and adorning the facades of village houses. The pepper is produced in Espelette and ten surrounding municipalities: Ainhoa, Cambo-les-Bains, Espelette, Halsou, Itxassou, Halsou, Larressore, Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle, Souraïde, Ustaritz. The peppers are harvested by hand when they are ripe and measure from 7cm to 14 cm. Then they are left to dry naturally for at least 15 days. Its reputation is protected and promoted by the Brotherhood of the Pepper, which was formed in 1969.