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WEDNESDAY 15TH: ARCACHON
Our plans next took us from Bordeaux via this quaint seaside town, which was sunny but eerily quiet.
One thing we found out here is that it's not a good idea to go into a brasserie at 12.30pm (i.e. lunchtime) and commit the faux pas of asking for just a coffee. Doing this, a waiter waved us to the very back of the place with a grunt and proceeded to completely ignore us, even though he only had about three lunch tables to look after. It was clearly a point of principle not to grant us such a politically incorrect request. We wandered out and down to the beach instead where we found a good seafood restaurant. Ordering lunch there was a palaver, though, to wit:
KOY: I'll have sushi, please.
WAITER: Sushi's off.
KOY: But it's on your blackboard just over there under "chef's suggestions".
WAITER (jumping up and down): Look! Look at the sushi restaurant next door!! It's closed!!! It's out of season!!!!!!!!!!!!!
KOY: Okay, fair enough. In that case I'll have lobster. Do you have lobster at the moment?
WAITER: Yes we do. However, the price on the carte of €9.50 is based on a 100g lobster. At the moment we only have 600g lobsters, so that'll be six times the price.
KOY: I see. In that case I'll have the paella.
The paella was very good but should not be confused with...
THE DUNE DE PYLA
We were only really in Arcachon to catch a bus to this place, which we'd heard was one of Europe's true geographical oddities. The day was a bit of a trial, as being out of season, the bus didn't serve the dune itself or the nearby camping ground but stopped about 3km away. Heading for le camping and intending two nights of self-catering, we loaded up with basic bits and pieces from the Casino supermarket in Arcachon, took the bus and then trudged uphill for the best part of an hour to La Foręt camping ground. There were closer campings but this was the only one open at this time of year. The slog was a nightmare but when we finally arrived it was definitely worth it.
We stayed in a cabin , equipped with a small kitchen and even a shower.
Outside was a picnic table and a view of Europe's largest sand dune .
Pyla is possibly the only sand dune in the world with its own staircase:
At the summit it was very windy but you could see for miles .
Down the other side, there was a slight tautology - a beach.
- - Miscellaneous sand studies - -
Wish You Were Here?
In the evenings we had a visitor who could smell self-catering at 100 paces.
Our cabin at La Foręt was the cheapest available (€34 plus €4 for hire of sheets) and was very cold at night and first thing in the morning, but there were other, thicker-walled cabins available, and the owner Emanuelle was very friendly and helpful, to the extent of letting us have her own baguette so we didn't have to walk 3km to buy one.
NEXT STOP: CARCASSONNE