Holidays. Abroad. To nice places. They should be made compulsory by the government. I have just spent two weeks in South West France and I am full of happy memories and new experiences. Needless to say I have the holiday blues. It’s very bleu indeed.
After flying into Biarritz, we caught a train south to St-Jean-de-Luz where we were spending our first two nights. This Basque seaside town has something for everyone with its friendly and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Old fashioned charm oozes from the narrow lanes, old buildings and fishing port. The restaurants are plentiful and overall the food was fairly good, with several affordable menus on offer.
One of the reasons we chose this destination was because we both wanted to learn how to surf. John is rather gifted in the sports department so I thought that starting this new venture on an even keel might give me a chance to be as good as him! We took a couple of lessons with an instructor who took the meaning of laid-back to a whole new level. Both in his attitude and instructions, it should be said! Surfing was fun but hard. The waves keep coming at you as you fight to get into position to try and catch a wave. Swallowing sea water and scraping your limbs on the sand at the bottom of the sea make for exhausting work. When you manage to stand up, it is exhilarating. You want to keep going and going and going.
After our stint in St-Jean-de-Luz, we moved to the Tamaris Plage campsite near Guéthary. It was my first foray into camping since school days. The bungalow we rented was perfect for our needs… had the weather been nice. We had about three days of heavy rain and I think my sense of humour might have deserted me at some point. Cooking on a temperamental two-hob stove was certainly a culinary moment I won’t forget. My friend Justine described it as ‘shabby chic’. I think I’ll let her believe in this romantic notion a while longer.
When the sun was shining, it was glorious. The sea is a stone’s throw from the campsite with a beach a minute’s walk away. The sunset was dramatic, with shades of purple and pink lighting up the sky.
Guéthary, which was recommended by my friend Hilary, is the place to stay if you are into surfing. Not as busy as Biarritz and what one would call a village, there is something really understated about the place. It is very refreshing. Seaside bars and restaurants are popular but never overcrowded and the food was always very fresh and full of flavour.
We ate at a wonderful restaurant called Cenitz. It is literally on the beach. If you are in the area, you must go. The food is delicious and the setting is idyllic. Book your table at the right time and enjoy the sunset whilst sipping on a glass of rosé wine.
This is a stunning area of France, it is easily accessible with cheap flights and the public transport links are pretty good. If you hire a car, it’s even easier. I’d return in a heartbeat.
Next week, our foray into the Pyrenees…