I woke up a little late, took my time to make my tea with my brand new stone and had a massive breakfast of a whole baguette, 8 slices of salami and 200g of cheese. I said goodbye to the English cyclists and made my way to the center of Bordeaux to visit the tourist office for camp sites and directions. That was a very wise idea, as they show me the way and I got out of the city in no time and without any problems this time.
I headed west, once more to meet the ocean and the coastal city of Arcachon. To ride was a little bit boring, as the road for about 30km is completely straight, without much variation in the scenery. Also it seems that on the west of Bordeaux there aren’t any vineyards, apart from a couple of chateaux and a about a dozen of vines in one of the entry roundabouts of the city, letting the visitors know what this city is all about.
Arcachon is another big resort, with nice beaches packed with well done cooked bathers. I got there relatively early, so I was debating whether to stay there or go further south to see the dunes of Pilat. I had done my homework with the campsites, so I knew there is one in the city and a few more further out. I went to the local tourist office to ask exactly where they are and for an opinion on what to do.
Me: I know there is a campsite in the city and a few other by the dunes. Which one do you recomend?
Tourist office lady: Ahh… I am not allowed to tell you.
Me: How come?
TOL: We can’t favor one over the other. But if I could, I would say the one in Arcachon.
TOL: Because it is the local one and it belongs to our department.
I cycled around the long beach of the city and I though I should go to the local one and call it a day, since it was very hot and I was getting a little tires. On the way, as I was looking at the map, an old couple asked me where I wanted to go, told them about the camp site and also asked for their opinion about the local one versus the ones in the dunes. They agreed the local one was better. As I was approaching to the camp site which by the way is not close to the sea, the same thing happend again, but with a younger man this time. I asked him the same question and he said the local is very good and close to the city, the others are 10km away but next to the dunes. So it’s up to what I wanted, luxary versus nice scenery. I thought about it for a minute and made the right choice of taking the extra ride to the dunes.
I knew these are the biggest sand dunes in Europe, but when I first saw them I said WOW!!! I was cycling within the forest and when I located the first camp site, I saw the massive dunes as its backdrop, and they were casting their shadow on the entire site. I quickly made my choice of the camp site and an emplacement just next to the dune boundary, thinking that I should better be as close as possible to the beach.
After I pitched my tent and before having a shower I went to have a look. It took me about 5 exhausting minutes to go up the dune and another 15 to go over it and down to the water. Apparently their maximum height is about 110 meters and 3 kilometers long. It’s probable the most spectacular scenery I’ve seen so far in the trip.
I also took this great opportunity to enjoy my first swim of the summer. You see I am a little peculiar about where I am swimming, even if I was craving it all these days as I was sweating next to the ocean. In general I avoid busy beaches, because that’s where you can smell the coconut suncream, hear screaming babies, find douzens of cigarettes under your towel and floating tambon in the water.
I was expecting the water a little warmer for such a hot day, but I guess that’s the ocean, or me who has lost touch with the sea. Anyway, after my swim I let my self dry out in the sun and walked up and down the massive dunes once more, to go back to the tent and cook my dinner.