But the more the Basques indulge their sentimental devotion to the past, the more they are being absorbed inexorably into the modern world. The younger generation is more interested in the jobs they can get in the new high-tech factories. And the Bilbao skyline is no longer dominated by steel mills but by the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, lured here at a cost of $56 to every citizen of the Basque Autonomous Community.
There are no more smugglers because there is no more frontier; Spain and France are members of the European Union. Jeannine Pereuil, who runs a pastry shop specializing in gâteau basque in the village of St. Pée-sur-Nivelle, on the French side, finds life distinctly less interesting than it was in the old days. "You used to hide a little bottle of Pernod in your clothes and nervously smile at the customs officials. Now, it's not any fun at all to go across."
But fun or no fun, she is going to stay in St. Pée-sur-Nivelle.