Back To An “Old” Favorite -> St Jean De Luz, France
Sometimes you just know that a place is going to draw you back.
It had only been a few months since my dad and I were here. We camped in May right before we headed into Northern Spain on our mini-tour to meet Paul and his dad on the Camino. We only stayed for a night that time around, but the relaxed campground and the lovely Basque seaside town of St Jean De Luz totally won our hearts. It’s such a wonderful spot.
So when Paul and I decided to embark on our Autumn mini-tour, I immediately knew THIS was the place I wanted to show him first. He was going to love being so close to the ocean, and the trail into town would be the perfect way to shake the cobwebs out of our hiking legs.
Of course things don’t always go the way you expect them to the second time around…
Sorry, We’re Full…
Motorhome travel in September is a lovely affair.
Kids are back in school so the crazy crowds of summer are gone, but the weather is still great so it’s the perfect time to just head to the ocean and find a quiet spot to call you own. All this is true of course, except for the thousands of retirees in France who have exactly the same idea.
Yes, apparently (and completely unbeknownst to use “newbies”) September is the retiree vacation month in France. It turns out it’s a rather well-known thing, and a busy month to travel, especially to popular areas like the coast. Oh well….
We rolled up to Camping Ferme Erromandie (€17/night with ASCI) in the early afternoon after a relaxed drive from home, smug in the certainty that we would have scores of prime sites to choose from, only to be horrified to learn there were FULL. Yup, zero sites, not a single open pitch, everything booked, nada for you…..
Of course in that moment I felt superbly stupid for not calling ahead, and my puppydog eyes immediately welled up with something akin to moisture. This must have achieved the required effect. Either that, or it was Paul’s cool and casual chat with the owner who did the job (he insists it was him, but hey…). Either way, the owner took pity on us and graciously offered us a free parking spot next to the office for the night, with the guarantee that we could get two paid nights in camp the following day. WHAT a nice guy, and what a huge relief for us!
We parked in deep gratitude and felt a smidgen guilty for the next 10 couples that had to be turned away. We also took that as a sign to plan ahead and start calling the next few places we planned to stay* What a save!
*Bookings -> As it turns out the rest of our mini-tour was OK, although it was much busier than we expected (everywhere!). We actually didn’t need reservations for the rest of our trip.
The Place Was Just As Great As I Remembered
Despite our rocky start, we quickly settled into our site and jumped out for a tour of the area.
First stop was the beach and the trail up the hill by camp. Polly recognized the place right away and was ecstatic to be back by the ocean, sniffing excitedly and jumping around like a little puppy dog. The trail up the hill was just as hard, and as beautiful as I remembered, and both Paul and I were feeling the “vibes” as we walked it.
There’s something about the soothing crash of ocean waves that just settles your soul, and when you hike up above the ocean and take in those expansive blue views your mind releases in ways I can’t exactly explain. I think I need these ocean fixes, just like I need the mountains, and the desert, and the deep forests. They feed me in ways that seem essential to my self-being, and without them I become shallow and stale. Profound stuff I know, but I think my fellow nomads will understand.
We Spend The Next Days Just Hanging & Exploring
The next few days we really don’t do much except hang at the beach, and explore around on our feet and bikes.
We deliberately decide not to travel far from the motorhome, mostly so we can keep an eye on the old cats and how they’re doing on their new “regime”. They’re adapting OK, but it’s a bit of a balancing act to get all the meds/supplements/fluids just right. Stressful stuff, to be honest.
However we do manage to relax and squeeze in several bike trips into town across the wonderful ~4 km trail that hugs the cliffs. We also manage a TON of walks with Polly by the sand (the beach here is not dog-friendly, but you can sneak a walk early in the morning or late at night around the edges of the official area), and along the multi-use hiking trail. It’s a good life…
And We Enjoyed Plenty Of Sunsets
And of course there were the sunsets. Nothing beats an ocean sunset (well maaaaybe a SW desert sunset, I’ll admit), and we enjoyed the first of many to come right here.
It’s so easy when all you have to do is cross the street, and we joined many others doing exactly the same. Plus it’s just such a great atmosphere to be part of.
There were folks walking their dogs, couples holding hands, people sipping wine at the seaside bar, a random guy playing bagpipes (strange I know, but turns out there are actually many traditional types of bagpipes in France), and everyone was gathered to soak in the soul-healing colors of the sun as it set over the waves. Sometimes humanity comes together like this, and you can feel that goodness as you walk through it. It’s a beautiful thing.
The next morning we packed up LMB for new and completely undiscovered (to us) destinations. We were going to travel slow and savor every minute, with the objective of squeezing in as many beach sunsets as we could possibly manage. Perhaps we’d even find a new “old” favorite along the way.