Biarritz- “Rick Steve’s, You Were Wrong”

Sean and I kept saying this as we walked around this eclectic beach town. Sure it doesn’t have a wealth of history museums, no Roman Amphitheater or remarkable cathedral, but I had read a random blog post about it before we left home and it had stuck in my mind. Back in Coco Chanel’s day it was a popular resort getaway for rich yachters to vacation, but it started to lose it’s popularity over time until in the 70’s some surfers noticed it’s great “vagues”. So now it’s a beautiful mix of belle epoch hotels and surfers.
Everything about our trip south could have gone that direction. Unpleasantly. After a nightmare of a time dropping off the car in Caen, we went to buy our tickets only to find out that our Eurail passes excluded us once again from all the good trains. So we were stuck with five transfers between Caen and Biarritz and wouldn’t arrive until 11:30 pm. Some of these connections were only ten minutes apart making our transfers real nail-biters.

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We had a map of the campsite, but didn’t know how late their reception would stay open, or what it was like there. Somehow though, everything went smoothly. When we arrived in Biarritz (the last stretch by crowded bus) it was warm and there were palm trees swaying everywhere. The air smelled good and there were snails on the ground. I don’t know why, but that seemed like a good sign to me. We found Camping Biarritz without issue and the security guard was kind and we got set up. It rained a lot that night. But our awesome little tent handled it perfectly. We woke up and made coffee with my new hot water heater, which by my 3rd cappuccino was already paying itself off.
“Camping” has a very different style in France than what we’re used to. There was a swanky Infiniti pool in our campsite and the bathrooms were a maze of shower and toilet stalls and sinks for washing your camping dishes. The bathroom “complex” was decoratively lit with blue spotlights coming out of the floor. There are lots of cabins for rent or spots for RV’s. We were the only people who had walked in with a tent in our bag.

On our second day, we were relaxing in the sun after a soup feast made with our hot water heater when Sean stood up and was hailed by our voisons (neighbors) Remi and Christoph. They invited us over for Scotch they’d bought tax free in Spain and we were happy to sit in chairs and join them. Remi spoke some English and Christoph wanted to, mostly because he likes Japanese girls (hard to explain but there was some logic there). They fell instantly in love with Sean calling him “cowboy”. We were invited into their giant tent which housed two smaller tents, a mini fridge, table and chairs and when they left Remi’s surfboard. They explained that they’re plumbers “like Mario!” Christoph would say. Despite any language barrier Christoph and Sean understood each other perfectly through a combination of wild gestures, nodding and occasionally asking excitedly for a word in french of english. Remi had purchased a surfboard determined to take advantage of the waves while in Biarritz and he invited Sean to surf with him the next day.

We ended up spending a good amount of time with Remi and Christoph, between beach trips, surfing, pool time and cooking. (Remi made some killer poulet basquaise.)
When we finally packed up we were sunburnt and well rested. Biarritz was like our vacation from traveling.

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