Atlantic Coast France
12/11/2009 12 °C
Our lift to Bordeaux worked out well, we arrived at the train station in the pissing down rain at 12.30am. And wowwee what a trip. We left Villeneuve Loubet on the French Riviera at 12.00 midday in a jam packed Astra station wagon driven by a French couple Beck and François. At 3.00pm we stopped at Beck’s sister’s place in Marseille. Boy were we in for a surprise treat.
We were invited into the family home and were served dinner and drinks. Francois was the only one to speak French and a little English. Our first real taste of French provincial food consisted of stuffed olives and French sausage for an appetiser, then a scrumptious salad and then the main course. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. It was mash potato with the texture of clouds accompanied by slow cooked casserole style succulent beef cuts marinated in garlic, wine and herbs. To die for - especially if you have been eating packet soup for the past 3 weeks. To finish off we had a delicious but smelly cheese and matched red wine from Corsica with fruit. Very special.
At dark we packed back into the Astra for the red eye run all the way to Bordeaux with a stop every 2 hrs for coffee and wees. From Bordeaux we needed to catch a train to Bayonne which did not leave until 6.30. We had 6 hours to kill. Which we did in homeless bum style walking along and hanging out on the platform cooking soup and coffee with our camp burner.
6:30. Train, bus, Bayonne. Finally. 10.00am we walk out of the train station and find Hotel Paris-Madrid right next to us. The manager Patrick is extremely friendly, speaks great English, and gave us a cheap sweet room for $25E. Ow my goodness a bed. 3 weeks sleeping on a yoga mat sure makes you appreciate the comfort of a mattress. Collapse.
We were going to camp in Biarritz/Anglet/Geutary area right on the beach and surf but as you can see neither activity was possible due to the bucketing down rain, 30kmph onshore winds and messy 15 ft storm swell. Welcome to sunny Biarritz. Not.
On our first public appearance from the Hotel Paris Madrid we attempted exploring Bayonne between heavy rainfall. The venture was not particularly successful as we got saturated but we did get a taste for this gorgeous traditional Basque town with picturesque townhouses sandwiched together along stonework canals.
We did have 1 rain free overcast stormy day which allowed us to walk from La Barre (river mouth next to Bayonne) 4km along the ocean to Biarritz taking in the raw messy power of the Atlantic and imaging where these fabled fantastic French surf breaks would be located.
We spent a night and day couch surfing in Anglet with the friendly Frenchman Allan and his girlfriend. He took us out for some ’French Mex’ and a beer, then generously let us sleep in his apartment while he slept in a friends apartment. The next day we ventured out into the storm to look at Saint Jean de Luz, a Basque town near the border of Spain. Even with the back drop of black clouds this place is beautiful.
Back to the Hotel for another couple of days spent drying clothes and tasting the wonderful French delicacies available from the supermarket. Jan would not believe her eyes, the cheeses are numerous, affordable and delicious.
And finally the day before we leave the storm finally passed and the sun came out. We were blinded by the light, went crazy, and Steve scored his much anticipated 1st surf in nearly 3 months at right hander called Lafitenia.
So plan B was to head to the French Atlantic coast to camp and surf with the hopes of saving some of our endangered Euro species. Due to the atrocious weather the opposite was the result as we needed to stay in a hotel the whole time. This is when Plan C was formulated within a minute one stormy depressing night - Operation Morocco - affordable living with sun and surf. Phase 1 of Plan C was to head into Basque Country Spain. MUNDAKA, MUNDAKA Steve insisted.