It is often the way of life that the “seemingly retired” (such as me) have reams of plans of places to go, and things to do and never a moment in which to do them. Sound familiar? For years we have threatened (promised ourselves) to go and visit the French Basque coast and see St. Jean de Luz and Biarritz. Friends of ours from our old life in the Caribbean moved back to France and settled in St. Jean de Luz for a few years, while near-neighbours of ours enjoy the odd night or 2 in Biarritz every now and then. A couple of weeks ago, I decided that enough was enough and we were jolly well out of excuses. We had a couple of spare days and, joy of joys, the hotel in Biarritz that our friends recommend (dog-welcoming) could be booked using a 2-year accumulation of credit card points and space for the nights we wanted. I bundled a few things into a bag, Brin’s stuff into an old lettuce box, and us into the car and we were off!
We have recently acquired a sat-nav system to replace that in my broken-down old Renault, which couldn’t be updated and with maps that are 15 years out of date was of little practical use anyway, and decided to let it guide us on the scenic route to Biarritz. Predictably we hadn’t even pulled away from the front of Les Terraces before we were arguing with it!
I’m not a great fan of driving, but it was a lovely day for a drive and the roads were largely empty (they almost always are in France), which is always a bonus. We arrived at the hotel’s forecourt and I giggled quietly to myself as the porter looked rather dubiously at our unsophisticated luggage arrangements and loaded them onto his trolley before moving the car down into their garage. Once settled, I took Brin and her frisbee off for her first experience of the beach and the sea, while Graham enjoyed the view from the hotel’s bar with his crossword in hand. The surf was moderate, and Brin quickly decided that the sea was too scary for her.
The next morning, dressed in my less-than-chic dog walking clobber I looked well out of place in the hotel’s lobby as I popped Brin’s super useful LED “see where she is in the dark” collar around her neck and we headed back down to the beach. There, in the dark, under the beam of the Biarritz lighthouse, people were hard at work grooming the sand for the day. We enjoyed making a jolly good mess of it!
We walked and walked. Every bend in the coastline enticed us a little further away from the town centre, and the views over the sea with a lovely pearlescent dawn were sublime. Eventually it was time to turn around and find a boulangerie in order to buy a couple of croissants for our breakfast. It was then that I realised just how touristy Biarritz is. We walked a further kilometer up and out of town before we could find somewhere to buy bread! Having succeeded, we descended once more to the beach, passing scores of shops selling luxury goods and restaurants a go-go, plus several estate agents’ windows on our way (you’ll need several 100K Euros for a pocket-sized flat with a postage-stamp view of the sea). As we hit the beach I could see surfers congregating at the break-line, and others arriving neoprene-clad and barefoot from the residences round about with their boards tucked under their arms. Brin thought that she was witnessing a new type of game and bounded enthusiastically along the beach hoping that someone would play with her.
Sadly for Brin, no-one wanted to play with her, so we went back for a shower and breakfast instead.