From St Jean de Luz in the Pyrenees Atlantiques to Fouras in the Charente-Maritime, taking in Bidart, Biarritz, Bayonne, Capbreton, Biscarosse (our closest beach) and Arcachon. We tried our best to cover as many seaside towns as we could in a ridiculously short time along the west coast of France.
A couple of weeks ago we said goodbye to our last gite guests of 2010 and within a couple of days were heading off for a well deserved break of our own. When we eventually move on from La Treille we need to decide and find where we’d like to live next. To be honest we’ve absolutely no idea where we’d like to go… except for an inkling that to live by the seaside might be nice. So, with that in the back of our minds we’re off on a kind of reccying mission to find a new ‘home town’. Although we have put La Treille on the market we haven’t actually sold yet so it’s absolutely pointless us looking at property at this stage. Also watching other ‘gite complexes for sale’ in France I’ve a feeling it’s going to take some time, perhaps even a couple of years to sell, especially as we are in no rush and will not be dropping our price to bag a sale.
After just three and a half hours we arrived in St Jean de Luz in the Pyrenees Atlantiques. We probably not doing it justice but our immediate impression was that it appeared a little grubby. We moved quite quickly and drove up the coastal road to Bidart – now this we did like! Unfortunately for us it is a very hilly commune and although this added to it’s charm it was a no no for us. We have a list of what we do and don’t want for our new town and hills are definitely not on it. Anyway, we spent a couple of ours having a nosey around and as we drove away I was looking back with tinge of sadness that it wasn’t to be. Here’s a few snaps of Bidart…
Driving north up the coast we next came to Biarritz… a hustling bustling town that’s quite busy even at this time of year (early October). There were even a couple of surfers braving the chilly sea. I love Biarritz. I’ve only been once before, about 5 years ago me and my mum stopped off here during a booze run to the Spanish frontier & duty free town at Irun. Property here is ‘tres cher’ so we weren’t kidding ourselves that this was a possability but it was nice to have a look around and browse in the many touristy boutiques and well known department store ‘Galeries Lafayette’.
It reminded me of Brighton with it’s art deco styled buildings and narrow little shopping streets.
I’m sorry the photo’s aren’t too good, there’s a new camera on my Christmas list this year!
We stayed at Biarritz for a couple of nights and then moved on to Bayonne. Bayonne is a town divided by the rivers Nive and Adour. It is made up of Grande Bayonne and Petite Bayonne (divided by the river Nive).
There’s a very impressive Gothic style Cathedral ‘Cathedral Saint-Marie’ that we spent an hour or so strolling around. I think this will be a new pastime for us in the future. We’ve both recently read the wonderful novel ‘Pillars of the Earth‘ by Ken Follett and have become quite interested in church architecture. The stained glass windows, ceilings and cloisters in this cathedral were pretty amazing…
I’d also read about an interesting art museum at Bayonne featuring many classical artists. The Bonnat Museum is sited in Petit Bayonne, I dragged Jeff along for a bit of culture. Unfortunately for us the top 2 floors were closed off to the general public for Restoration works which left just mostly the Bayonne artists paintings to look at – interesting but not quite what I was looking forward to. It’s one of the largest art galleries in southern France so I was quite disappointed.
Leaving Bayonne we made our way up to Capbreton. This was our favourite seaside town in the Landes department and I know I said we wouldn’t be looking at property but we couldn’t resist looking in a couple of estate agents windows. We even stepped into one and asked the assistant if it would be possible to buy a property in this commune with the budget we thought we’d likely have… he gave the Gallic shrug and said, quite smugly “most unlikely”. We walked out feeling like we shouldn’t even have had the gall to ask and feeling quite low although I kind of knew that would be the answer. Anyway, it had a lovely centre ville that was just being re-vamped with new paving, a beautiful sandy beach, huge marina and much more. I didn’t take any photo’s, probably because I was feeling rejected still by the estate agents rebuke and thoroughly regret that now as it was quite a lovely place and we’d definitely go back there, if only for a holiday. Here’s a couple of pictures I found on Google…
Moving on again we drove all the way up the coast to Biscarrosse. I’m sure there were quite a few more sea side towns in between Capbreton and Biscarrosse but they were all starting to look the same. We decided to try to get to Biscarrosse before nightfall. Biscarrosse just happens to be the nearest seaside beach resort to La Treille and for some reason we’ve never been there…It didn’t take us long to make-up our minds that we didn’t like it at all… it was all too ‘open’ and not enough character for us. We were that disappointed we stayed for a quick coffee and within half an hour were back on the road.
Next stop Arcachon. We’ve done ‘the dune’ before so made our way directly to Centre Ville where we quickly found a hotel for the night. Oh just in case you were wondering what I meant by ‘the dune’ – The dune du pilat is the biggest sand dune in Europe – check out the link for some amazing photo’s! The next morning we had a stroll around the centre ville for a spot of retail therapy and were just contemplating whether to stay another night of leave for home when Jeff suggested we hop on a ferry and short-cut across the bay to the Charente to have another look at Fouras… why not I thought!
Fouras is a pretty seaside town on a peninsular about half an hour south of La Rochelle. It has it’s own fort ‘FortVauban’ and has five different beaches surrounding the town. It has a proper ‘seaside community’ feel to it and when we first discovered it last April we both immediately felt at home here and promised we’d come back to investigate further. The only thing is I thought that perhaps it would be a bit warmer the next time we came, oh well. We booked into the Hotel La Roseraie for 2 nights and spent the next couple of days exploring every inch of the commune. It really is lovely and I’m sure this would be the place we’d choose to live when we eventually move on from La Treille.
We left Fouras and headed for home. I can’t say that this has been a relaxing holiday but definitely very interesting and at least we’ve eliminated quite a few places we definitely wouldn’t want to live. Having been back home a couple of weeks and reflected on what we learnt I for one am still very unsettled as to where exactly we’ll end-up. I think the best thing I can do is to not worry about it until we’ve sold, after all it could take years!