Before the rise of St. Tropez / Côte d’Azur as hot spot for celebrities and royals, Biarritz was the place to be. Consequently, 1930s grandeur embraces the Grande Plage with the Hôtel du Palais, the Casino Municipal and mansions that have their roots back in the era of Napoléon III and the enthusiasm of his Spanish wife Eugénie.
By happenstance the part of my wardrobe with clean clothes today is limited to the best pieces, being just the right outfit for the glorious places of Biarritz. With style and dignity I enter the park of the Hôtel du Palais, knowing that once upon a time the empress of France resided in the palace that stood here before fire, rebuilding and golf courts took over.
The waiter is courteous as a British butler and tries with extensive care to fulfil my special wishes. Presenting him a challenge seems the right approach when falling out of the camper van into a fairytale castle.
The hour on the terrace of the Hôtel du Palais with a can of finest tea and the most glorious view over Biarritz’ central bay has been the best idea of all. The surrounding is excellent, my sunglasses are Gucci and the swimming pool is enormous. If once I leave camping and Hector behind (unthinkable), I will go straight for luxury hotels, no compromises!
It is at Biarritz’ beach that I see the first surfers – finally!
The weather is gentle, the waves are in place and only some construction sins from younger decades prevent me from falling straight into a picture postcard world.
I follow the path along the coastline, eat some fish at the old harbour and continue to the Rocher de la vierge. During a chat with some local guys I learn that here only painters are allowed to sell souvenirs and I have to admit that the paintbrush work on decoration surfboards and boomerangs is a quite good one.
Once more the travel book “Südwestfrankreich” by Michael Müller Verlag offers the most useful information: I left Hector at the free parking “Floquet” and took the free shuttle bus (“navette”) to the centre. Thanks to Hector’s slim silhouette, I can leave him at almost any parking slot for regular cars – as long as there is no height restriction, that is.
After some successful shopping at Biarritz (oh, I hope my niece likes my present just as I do) I get back to Hector and in a shortness of time we arrive at the campsite “Vieux Port” at Vieux-Boucau.
It is one of those animated, water-playground-and-rental-home sites that have a perfect website, good marketing and high prices. I choose a place underneath pines and directly behind the dunes and plan to spend a week here, relaxing and doing sports and everything.
It does seem comfortable on first sight, but Friday evening crowds of Spanish families arrive, being above all: loud. And respect-less. And annoying. Within the blink of an eye they take over the entire camp site. It is not only the crowds of people, but also the mid-quality sanitaries, the extra charge on WIFI, the useless pool area, the non-swimming beach and the ignorant waiters at the tapas bar, altogether the decision is easily made: Change it, love it or leave it. Consequently, I change to the camping municipal “Les Sablères” with half the price but double comfort (with exception to the availability of toilet paper).
On top, the camping municipal is closer to the city and thus even better for flexible beach days. After the re-settlement to Les Sablères, I finally come to a halt and am willing to begin the second week of the holidays. The first one was full of moving on, thousands of kilometers and a variety of impressions. Now, the second one, will be dedicated to other contents.