Are you on holiday in the Basque Country and looking to get Basque souvenirs and gifts for yourself or a loved one back home?
We admit that food is the protagonist in the Basque region: everything revolves around food. Unfortunately, taking most food products from one country to another is sometimes ill-advised. That, coupled with the fact that some foods may not travel well inside a luggage, makes taking typical food products from San Sebastian and the Basque Country a difficult task. However, we believe there are plenty of other wonderful and meaningful Basque souvenirs options that will remind you of your stay in the Basque Country and bring a smile to your, or your loved one’s, face once you return home.
In this post, we provide a few ideas for Basque souvenirs and gifts to buy in the Basque Country that won’t take up too much space in your luggage and will make you look good with friends and family on your return home.
1.- IBARRAKO PIPARRAK & HANDCRAFTED ANCHOVIES
Become a Basque ambassador on your return home by inviting your friends and family to a “pintxos dinner” at your place. You’ve surely tasted or learned how to make the famous “Gilda” while on a food tour in San Sebastian. Now it’s your time to become the chef. While in San Sebastian, you can head to the market and purchase a jar of Ibarrako Piparrak Eusko Label (the pickled variety of the Basque guindilla pepper) and some handcrafted Cantabrian anchovies. Back at home, simply skewer one of those peppers, an anchovy and an olive on a toothpick, and you’ll have made yourself a “Gilda”. Pair it with some Txakoli, and you’ll be the king of the party.
2.- BASQUE ILLUSTRATIONS AND PRINTS
Do you have an artsy best friend? While visiting the French Basque Coast, you can take a moment to look at the illustrations found in the shop Crusoée in San Juan de Luz. This tiny shop offers a wide array of Basque themed illustrations and prints, some in a retro style, that can work as unique Basque souvenirs and are sure to hit the mark with your friends and colleagues.
3.- TXAPELA OR BASQUE BERET
If you or your friends love fashion, purchasing a “Txapela” (or Basque Beret) is always a great idea as it is an elegant item that never goes out of style. Even though the beret is an item that isn’t exclusively used in the Basque Country, the Txapela is one of the most traditional headwear for Basque people. The origins of use of this beret are uncertain, but it became really popular all over the Basque Country during the XIXth century. Nowadays, there is only one textile factory located in Tolosa still dedicated to making berets, and it has been making them for the past 162 years; the factory is called Boinas Elosegui. You can find a wide variety of these berets made from the best quality merino wool at Casa Ponsol, a centenary family-run business in the old town of San Sebastian.
4.- BASQUE TABLECLOTH
For people who like to meet with friends around a beautifully adorned table, this is definitely the Basque souvenir for them. Today, you can find a wide array of different patterns, designs and colors, but the traditional Basque tablecloth is simply decorated with seven stripes that represent each of the seven provinces of the Basque Country. Most of the textile Basque Linge factories are located in the French Basque Country, so we encourage visiting the region and any of the shops of the area to purchase this timeless classic.
5.- BASQUE MYTHOLOGY JEWELRY OR PENDANTS
Finally, if you are someone who travels light or just don’t have much free space left in your luggage, your choice for Basque souvenirs could be a pendant or piece of jewelry of a Basque mythological symbol, which are easily found in jewelry stores all over the old town of San Sebastian and in the French Basque Countryside. One of such symbols is the “Lauburu” (meaning “four heads” in Basque): it is a symbol of good fortune that takes the form of a cross that represents the Sun and, according to Basque mythology, has the capacity to chase away the influence of evil. Another mythological symbol is the “Eguzkilore” (meaning “sun flower” in Basque): it is a thistle that grows in the Pyrenees with a yellow central part that represents the Sun. The thistle is traditionally hung from the front door of houses as protection from evil spirits of the dark. A pendant in the form of this thistle can symbolically serve the same purpose.