We arrived at Camping Ferme Erromardie after a very long and hot, but incident free, road trip from Lyon – where we had been spending a couple of days with OH’s sister and her family. Having fretted about the red line that Google maps presented every time we checked out the route around Bordeaux, we were pleasantly surprised to find the ring road fluide and the A63 towards Spain (red on the map) no worse than the M25 in rush hour. Thus we have concluded that a red line merely informs the population of France (and assorted tourists) that they can’t speed along that autoroute with their customary haste and carefree abandon but might have to apply brakes from time to time.
The campsite itself is just across the road from a lovely beach. To fall asleep to the sound of the waves was marvellous. Slightly less marvellous was the slightly cosy pitch size and lack of access to a motorhome service point – nothing that a little teamwork, some careful manoeuvring and a couple of 15 litre buckets couldn’t put right. Oh, and a chilled beer [OH] or a glass of wine [me] followed by a leisurely paddle in the surprisingly warm waters of the Atlantic.
This morning, my natural curiosity and mild sense of indignation lead me to check out the other sections of the campsite (which is in three separately barricaded sections) for the motorhome service point. And, YES, there it was … in section 3 – carefully disguised as a small tap behind an officious looking but otherwise apparently useless lump of concrete (I think) and a very small drain, the size of a dinner plate. The prospect of trying to access this dubious resource made me thankful for the OH-with-bucket solution and, indeed, has strengthened our resolve to acquire a funnel! (Getting water from the bucket into the water tank – under the bench seat – could have been the starting point for a Monty Python sketch.)
Being suitably charged with croissants and chocolatines from the local Alimentation we decided to take the picturesque route to St Jean de Luz via the coast path, enjoying a deviation through a fitness-trail (looked much the same as the rest of the path to me, but still) and emerging above the very scenic port. The path took us past amazing sea views and rock formations that looked a little like the stratifications inherent to a slice of Vienetta. Our photos don’t do this justice so I will try and find some library pics and link them to this post when we get wifi.
St Jean de Luz has a long and very French beach, with deckchair rentals, kids clubs or garderie , lifeguards and seafront bars aplenty. Having walked along the not inconsiderable length of the beach, we turned our attention to the Aire Camping Cars. I had read much about this Aire on various other blogs and forums too and they suggested that access was difficult and parking a little close – so being ever curious (ok, nosy) it just had to be checked out. The reviews were right. The Aire sits between a rail track and a town centre dual carriageway and has enough spaces for about 15 motorhomes – preferably of the less than 7m variety. There seemed to be about a foot either side of each vehicle – not a position to be in after a large pasta meal or similar! We watched with great admiration as a Chausson ‘Best of 10’ took the last space, manoeuvring into an awkward and narrow space with far greater nerve and dexterity than I would ever presume to have.
Later this afternoon, having tracked down an errant bus stop for a less energetic return to our campsite should we run out of steam, we caught up with D – newly arrived in town via Stansted and Biarritz. Ignoring any hint of travel weariness on his part we set off in search of a restaurant suitable for a piscatarian [D]. There is a brilliant road in St Jean de Luz, called Rue Pierre-Louis Tourasse. It has a number of rather interesting looking fish restaurants. We spent a considerable time reading their menus, walking up and down, wondering whether they were open (no, not until 19.00), sauntering round the block and returning to lurk yet again – with a brief intermission sheltering from torrential rain yanks to a nearby bandstand!
We settled on the Bodega La Plancha and were suitably impressed by the way in which the popular restaurant promptly filled with happy customers, the speed of service and, to a greater extent – the food too (moules la Plancha wasn’t so great but the others had a great meal). But … a big BUT for us … we were evicted! Not exactly thrown out – more a ‘we need your table now so can you go’ moment. Clearly the probability of our returning to their restaurant was lower than the cost of losing potential business from the steady stream of tourists lurking, as we had, outside in the street. Fair enough? Well forewarned is forearmed and, should you find yourself in the vicinity, then at least you know you will be eating against the clock! Despite having a grumble here, the three of us found ourselves chortling about the situation as we headed for the seafront for a post prandial amble. Indeed the amble turned into a brisk walk as OH and I decided to wave goodbye to D until the morning, eschew the planned bus, and take the coast path back to our campsite – a brilliant finish to the day.
Tomorrow D will join us at 09.00, and he and OH will get on their bikes (literally) and head for St Jean Pied de port via Spain, whilst I take the motorhomes the same destination via a rather less lumpy route. I will be hoping to find a space in the Camping Municipal – with the Aire Camping Cars as plan B.