The first day in our home exchange in Ciboure on the Basque Coast gets off to a good start with breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Pyrenees. There’s so much sun we even have to open up the awning.
After breakfast we go into the centre of Ciboure to buy fresh fish directly from the stalls representing the people who caught it. We choose a dorade rose (red sea bream) which is supposed to be the best of the sea bream family.
We then go to the Coopérative Maritime which sells clothing brands such as Saint James, Cap Marine and Armor Lux, very popular on the coast in France,particularly in the summer. I find a navy zippered cotton cardigan which will be perfect for cooler evenings by the sea.
We go home and change into our cycling gear and set off by car to join the cycle path to Bayonne, a nice easy ride for the second day of the holidays. Jean Michel tries a couple of different places and then decides it’s the right one. Theoretically we’ve cycled along this path before but I don’t recognise it. But that’s not surprising – I don’t remember a lot of places we’ve been …
Instead of the flat path I thought we were taking, it starts with a steep hill. OK, I think, now it’s going to get flatter. But it doesn’t. We whizz downhill which is always worrying because there is inevitably a hill going up on the other side. Jean Michel then realises he’s somehow confused Saint Jean de Luz with Biarritz and the roller coaster bike path is not going to stop for quite some time. I groan inwardly.
The coastal scenery is admittedly very beautiful but I’m so busy changing gears that I can’t really take it in. I also can’t take many photos because there is no way I’m going to stop on the way up a slope or I’ll never get going again. Also, my first gear isn’t working which doesn’t make things any easier.
After a while, I realise that if we don’t stop soon, we’ll never get lunch. It’s already 1.30. I see a sign that says “restaurant” just before another hill. We’ve only done 6 ½ kilometers but I’m exhausted. The road goes downhill and we come to a concrete building with a sort of garden tent attached to it and tables and even deckchairs on the grass in front, with a stunning view of the sea.
We don’t hesitate. I go inside to find a table as there are no sunshades over the outside tables and it’s about 28°C in the sun. I gradually start to recover and my beetroot shade slowly disappears (I’m not burnt as I’ve slathered on sunscreen). I look at the menu. Twenty euro for harmburger meat and French fries seems a little exaggerated.
Then I spy the set menu for 19 euros – dish of the day, a glass of wine (will I ever get up the slope?) and café gourmand. The dish of the day is Spanish: small sweet peppers stuffed with garlic cream and cod, served with rocket. Sounds perfect. The waiter very sweetly brings us bread and some sort of spread while we’re waiting.
Jean Michel congratulates me on all the hills and suggests we go back to the car, load the bikes again and go to the place he meant to go to in Biarritz in the first place. Sounds like a good idea to me. I manage to cycle back up and down the hills, only getting off and pushing the bike twice.
When we finally get to the flat bike path, I’m not sure my legs are going to cooperate. But apart from a few initial undulations, the bike path really is flat. It’s also shady and I begin to wonder whether I was right to leave our sweat shirts in the car. After those horrible hills, it seems dead easy though. The sky isn’t as blue as it was when we started out.
At Bayonne, we find the café where we had a cold drink last time we cycled from Biarritz, next to the Adour River with a lovely view of the old town opposite. Afterwards we cycle around a bit. The sky is looking more and more threatening so we decide we’d better start making tracks.
We stop and put our jean shirts on. The tide is turning and the air is much cooler. We hope it won’t start raining before we get back to the car because we obviously don’t have our rain capes. About 3 K before we reach our destination, we feel the first drops. We’re nearly back at the car when they start getting heavier and, thankfully, IN the car when it really starts to rain.
However, it doesn’t last that long and we follow the coast road back to Saint Jean de Luz, congratulating ourselves on not having to go up and down all those hills again.
This post is part of the Lou Messugo monthly All About France blog link-up. For other entries, click here