We drove the 120 miles west along the fast A64 toll road from a free stop-over at Lannemezan.

The weather was dreadful, headwinds and rain meant slow progress and the promised mountain views did not materialise out of the low-lying clouds. Visibility was less than 100 meters in some parts.

A return to the French Atlantic coast

It was a relief to arrive in the late afternoon at a beachside aire at Anglet, a suburb of one of the most elegant seaside towns in all of Europe, in both reputation and reality.

The sun had now poked through the heavy clouds so we took a small beer each on the cliffs and looked out at the beacon shining on the waters from the light house at nearby Biarritz. It had been a long day on the road and we had clocked up 3,386 trip miles.

Le Phare de Biarritz

It was an enjoyable walk along the cliffs and back to Biarritz the next day where well-dressed diners and laid-back surfers were lunching in the mix of belle époque and art deco bars and restaurants.

The old port was full of fishing boats taking shelter behind the tall sea walls of the Biscay Bay. Harbourside cafés served fish lunches, filling the air with tantalisingly aromatic seafood, lemon and garlic.


A very public workout!

Beach life was fully embraced by locals and tourists alike and we enjoyed walking the cliffs skirting past joggers, power walkers and impromptu work outs.One girl’s daily routine seemed focused on a bizarre tree whacking exercise.

Other older fitness fans made use of the freely available gym stations. We mooched leisurely on by.

Surf’s up on Grande Plage

As the sun heated up we joined the throngs of Friday beachgoers down at the town’s historic Café de Grande Plage, part of the splendid art nouveau casino, for a glass of local vin blanc. A memorable way to celebrate our crossing of France from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic coast! Biarritz was filling up for the weekend…

Back at the aire and a commune of weekending Basque families had set up a noisy camp causing some French and German vans to leave in haste.

The packed aire at Anglet

We cheerily made small-talk trying to dust up our various rusty Guatemalan Spanish phrases (“I can’t remember”, “I am from England”, “let’s go dancing”, “which bus goes to the volcano?”, “two beers please”, “my knee hurts!”) and were rewarded with a plate of freshly grilled sea bass caught that afternoon by our grinning and gap-toothed Basque neighbour, the patriarch of an enormous family of short dark men and sulky bleached blonde girls.

We got along enjoyably for a couple of days together.